The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), the union for the league’s players, is reportedly advising agents to impress upon clients to cease placing sports bets on their mobile phones because sportsbook operators are reporting such activity to the league.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. The union is telling agents to warn players about sports betting. (Image: Yahoo Sports)
The news emerged less than two weeks after the NFL suspended five players for violating the league’s anti-gambling policies. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus, safety C.J. Moore of the Detroit Lions, and defensive end Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders were banned indefinitely for allegedly wagering on games last year. They can apply for reinstatement after a year.
Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams, who played for the Lions last season, were each suspended for six games for wagering on sports, but those violations didn’t involve NFL games.
I am sure all of you have seen the recent suspensions of players that resulted from violations of the NFL Gambling Policy (which is unilaterally imposed by the NFL and not collectively bargained),” according to a copy of the NFLPA email to agents obtained by Pro Football Talk.
The union added that the players are being ensnared by placing bets on their phones while at team facilities or traveling with their teams, both of which run afoul of the league’s betting protocols.
NFLPA Warns About Monitoring
The NFLPA also warned agents about the process through which sportsbook operators identify NFL players betting and pass that information on to the league.
We have confirmed that some states monitor/audit FanDuel and the other gambling apps to ensure that the companies are in compliance with state law. Further, the apps monitor gambler activity. It was as part of that monitoring that the NFL learned of the players using the apps at work in violation of NFL rules. At no time should players open or use any mobile gambling app while at work,” according to the email.
There’s something to that notion. Last year, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley, then a member of the Atlanta Falcons, was suspended for the 2022 season for wagering on games, including some involving his team. He didn’t play in that contest.
It’s believed Ridley’s undoing was tribal gaming giant Hard Rock International and sports betting data provider Genius Sports confirming to the league that Ridley placed the wagers in question.
Interestingly, the NFL is the biggest equity investor in Genius Sports. The NFLPA has an investing arm of its own which includes some stakes in gaming-related entities.
NFL Takes Betting Policy Seriously
While its enforcement of domestic violence and sexual assault rules has been the subject of much criticism, there’s no denying the NFL takes a hard line when it comes to sports betting.
In 2019, then Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended for betting on an NFL game. Last year, New York Jets wide receiver coach Miles Austin III was suspended for violating the league’s wagering rules.
As Pro Football Talk points out, there are easy ways for players to avoid running afoul of the league’s betting protocols. Those are don’t bet on anything while at work or traveling with the team, never bet on anything related to the NFL, and don’t use a mobile device to place wagers.
That implies that players with an itch to bet on a sporting event would be well served by embracing something like baseball or hockey and placing that wager at a retail sportsbook.
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