The relationship between the NFL and sports betting is ever-evolving, and so is the NFL gambling policy. The policy is regularly reviewed with personnel and players, leading to policy adjustments over time.
With numerous high-profile cases over the last couple of years, including then-Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley, Detroit Lions WR Jameson Williams, and Indianapolis Colts CB Isaiah Rodgers, let’s examine the current guidelines that make up the NFL Gambling Policy.
What Is the NFL’s Gambling Policy?
When it comes to NFL personnel and games, the policy is simple — it is a no-go area. All betting on NFL games is prohibited for NFL personnel, with no excuses. The policy states, “All NFL Personnel are prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third party, on any NFL game, practice or other event.
This includes betting on game outcome, statistics, score, performance of any individual participant, or any other kind of ‘proposition bet’ on which wagering is offered.”
As part of that, it is stated that “NFL Personnel shall not throw or fix any NFL game or in any way influence its outcome, statistics, or score; or otherwise manipulate or attempt to manipulate any other aspect of any NFL game for a gambling-related purpose.”
They go on to state that this includes “accepting a bribe, or otherwise agreeing to throw, fix or influence a game, as well as failing to report any bribe, offer, or attempt to do so.”
There are further sections of the NFL gambling policy that include the mention of giving their best effort, as well as a section covering the provision of providing non-public or confidential information. This includes the passing of that information through a third party.
Further parts of the policy cover NFL players not having an association with “persons generally known to be professional, problem, and/or sports gamblers, in a manner that discredits the reputation of the NFL, NFL Players or the game.”
There is also a provision with regard to players accepting gifts or services from a casino or other gambling-related establishments. These must not exceed $250, according to the most recent publicly available version of the policy.
The NFL summarized its six key rules for players in terms of their gambling policy:
- Don’t bet on the NFL.
- Don’t gamble at your team facility while traveling for a road game or staying at a team hotel.
- Don’t have someone bet for you.
- Don’t share team “inside information.”
- Don’t enter a sportsbook during the NFL playing season.
- Don’t play daily fantasy football (DFS).
The NFL Gambling Policy was brought into sharp focus ahead of the Super Bowl heading to Las Vegas. The league felt the need to send out a reminder to players of some of the key points ahead of Super Bowl week.
The memo served a few purposes in terms of reminding all players of the rules, as well as differentiating between those playing and not playing this week.
One of the key reminders was that players may not enter a sportsbook this week, even if they are not playing in the game. The policy states that players may not enter a sportsbook during the NFL playing season. That means even when a player’s season is over, they cannot enter a sportsbook until the Super Bowl ends.
The reminder also emphasized that all players traveling with the Kansas City Chiefs or San Francisco 49ers are not allowed to gamble this week in any form. Meanwhile, players not on the Chiefs or 49ers may gamble on non-NFL events or casino table games when not partaking in sponsorship or club-based events.
What Punishments Are There for Violating the Gambling Policy?
The NFL and NFLPA recently agreed to updated punishments for offenses when it came to the NFL gambling policy. The current punishments are as follows:
- Betting on NFL Football: Indefinite suspension that will be a minimum of one year or a minimum of two years if a player bets on an NFL game that involves his team.
- Actual or Attempted Game Fixing: Permanent banishment from the NFL.
- Inside Information or Tipping: Indefinite suspension with a minimum of a year.
- Third Party or Proxy Betting: Indefinite suspension with a minimum of one year.
- Betting (non-NFL) in the Workplace or While Working: Various, see below
Can NFL Players Bet on Other Sports?
Where things get a little more cloudy is when it comes to betting on other sports. The most recent version of the policy allows NFL players to bet on other sports than the NFL. However, NFL personnel are not allowed the same level of freedom and are not allowed to participate in any sports betting.
Additionally, the policy states that players must not bet on other sports while inside an NFL facility. Players are allowed to play cards or other casino-type games as long as they are not wagering anything of value during those games.
If a player places a wager while in the workplace or working, the following punishments will apply:
- First Violation: Two-game suspension without pay.
- Second Violation: Six-game suspension without pay.
- Third Violation: Suspension without pay for at least one year.
Which NFL Players Have Been Suspended for Violating the Gambling Policy?
The suspension of Jameson Williams fell under the “betting inside an NFL facility” clause of the NFL gambling policy. That is considered to be a far less serious breach of the rules than betting on NFL games themselves.
Therefore, he received a six-game suspension, as opposed to the “indefinite” suspensions handed down to the likes of Calvin Ridley, Quintez Cephus, C.J. Moore, and Shaka Toney.
Williams will be suspended for the first six games of the Detroit Lions’ 2023 season. However, he is eligible to play in preseason games, as well as partake in training camp and other team activities during the offseason.
The latest incident of a player falling foul of the NFL Gambling Policy occurred with Colts CB Isaiah Rodgers. In a report by Matt Rybaltowski of SportsHandle, he stated that a Colts player is under investigation for “pervasive” wagering activities.
Reportedly, some of those wagers were placed on games involving Indianapolis. ESPN later reported that Rodgers was the player in question.
Rodgers released a statement in which he acknowledged the incident, “I know I have made mistakes, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to repair the situation.” However, Rodgers did not admit to placing wagers on Colts games.
MORE: How To Bet on NFL Games
This situation will be an intriguing one for the league’s policy, given the danger that a player potentially betting on his own team’s games could cause to the integrity of the NFL.
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