NFL response to congresswoman includes call for more federal attention to illegal gambling

The NFL has responded to a Nevada congresswoman’s inquiries about the league’s gambling policies with a letter that includes a call for lawmakers and law enforcement to pay additional attention to illegal gambling and put more resources toward combating it.

The NFL’s letter to U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat who is co-chair of the bipartisan gaming caucus, highlights the league’s recent efforts to increase education for its approximately 17,000 players, coaches, team personnel and others about the league’s gambling rules.

“There is no higher principle at the NFL than safeguarding the integrity of the game,” NFL vice president of public policy and government affairs Jonathan Nabavi wrote in the letter, which is dated Friday and was obtained by The Associated Press. The league also pointed to its relationships with integrity monitoring services to help identify and address violations of its policies.

But while those efforts are geared toward the legal sports betting market, the letter said, the NFL believes “Congress and the federal government have a unique role to play in bringing enforcement actions against illegal operators” and noted that it has been “working to highlight the importance of federal engagement in this area.”

“We believe that additional attention and resources are needed from lawmakers and law-enforcement to address the illicit sports betting market, which still has the power of incumbency,” Nabavi wrote.

In her June 15 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Titus asked the league for a rundown of its policies following a rash of recent gambling-related suspensions by the league.

“When players get suspended and coaches get fired, that means the system is working. The goal, however, should be to stop these bets before they are placed,” Titus wrote.

On Friday, Titus released a statement critical of the NFL’s response to her request, saying it didn’t provide an answer on the number of active investigations the NFL has into suspicious sports betting activity.

“With legal sports betting on the rise, it is more important than ever to maintain the integrity of games for players, bettors, and bookmakers,” Titus’ statement said. “That’s why I wrote all the leagues asking for information on their internal policies concerning betting, including education and enforcement. It’s very disappointing that the NFL has declined to answer our questions and instead pivoted to illegal sports betting generally in their response. It makes one wonder what they are trying to hide.”

She also reached out to the leaders in the NBA, MLB and NHL as well as the NCAA and other leagues. In the NCAA’s response to Titus last month, NCAA President Charlie Baker reported it has found 175 infractions of its sports-betting policy since 2018 and has 17 active investigations.

The NFL’s response focused on its own policies.

The NFL prohibits employees and players from betting on their own games. In addition, players and personnel are not allowed to engage in gambling in NFL facilities, disclose any nonpublic NFL information, enter a sportsbook during the NFL season, or maintain any social, business or personal relationships with sports gamblers.

But they can place non-sports wagers at legally operated casinos and horse or dog racing tracks on their personal time, including during the season.

Over the past two years, 11 NFL players have been suspended for gambling policy violations.

The causes have ranged from players who placed wagers on their own teams while not participating to players who have not abided by the league’s prohibition on betting on sports while at team facilities.


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