The NFL’s crackdown on sports betting among players appears to be ratcheting up.
A month after the league suspended five players for gambling, the NFL is reportedly investigating more potential violations, according to ESPN’s David Purdum, ahead of the start of the 2023 season.
It’s unclear exactly what or who could face punishment, but the league already laid out a blueprint for how it handles players and staff who either bet on games or place bets at team facilities.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley served what ended up being a one-year suspension in 2022 after the NFL determined he bet on NFL games while away from the Atlanta Falcons (he was eventually traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars). He was originally handed an indefinite suspension.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus, Lions defensive back C.J. Moore and Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney will serve a similar suspension after the league found that, like Ridley, they bet on NFL games. Lions receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were only suspended for six regular season games because they placed bets at NFL facilities on non-NFL games.
New York Jets wide receivers coach Miles Austin was also suspended for at least one year in 2022 for placing bets on table games and non-NFL games at team facilities. Former Arizona Cardinals safety Josh Shaw was one of the first players suspended after the NFL said he bet on games in 2019. He served a one-year suspension in 2021 but last played in the USFL for the Birmingham Stallions.
NFL’s dual role as promoter and denier of sports betting
The NFL accepted the world of sports betting when it was legalized in 2018 and has eventually attached itself to several major partners in big ways. Gambling information is intertwined with in-game analysis like never before, and sportsbooks can even operate instead of team stadiums.
It’s a juxtaposition that appears both hypocritical and greedy given the NFL’s anti-gambling policy, one that players and team staff are trained with written notices and meetings. But now, issues are catching up as more people are being suspended for doing things that are simultaneously shoved in their faces daily.
The league quickly caught on to how players violate its policies. Earlier this month, the NFLPA reportedly sent a memo to agents warning them that the league can track their player’s use of sports betting apps, which played a role in April’s suspensions. This geo-tracking software is also how the NFL caught Ridley in 2022.
So while the NFL racks in sponsorship money and remains relevant in a growing market, the players continue to be swept up and face the consequences.