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NFL Cracking Down on Players Gambling

Gary McLellan
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The 2018 landmark decision by the Supreme Court in Murphy vs. NCAA revolutionized sports betting in the United States. This ruling allowed individual states to establish their own laws on sports wagering, effectively overturning the 1992 Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act that prohibited most states from allowing betting on football, basketball, baseball, and other sports.

In the wake of this ruling, major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL have adopted new approaches to their association with the sports betting industry. This article explores the regulations imposed by these leagues and the consequences for those who violate them.

Additionally, it examines the partnerships between leagues and gambling companies and the financial aspects related to player involvement.

Regulations on Gambling by Players in Sports Leagues

  • NFL – The NFL strictly prohibits its employees and players from betting on their own games, citing potential risks to the integrity of the competition and team cohesion. Moreover, NFL personnel, except players, are prohibited from placing or facilitating bets on any professional, college, international, or Olympic sports competition. However, NFL players are allowed to engage in non-sports wagers at legally operated casinos, horse or dog racing tracks during their personal time, even during the season.
  • NBA – While the NBA prohibits its players from betting on their own games, there are no explicit restrictions on players betting on other sports.
  • MLB – Major League Baseball permits its personnel to place legal bets on sports other than baseball or softball in jurisdictions where sports betting is legal, as long as the person is eligible to do so under applicable law.
  • NHL – The NHL only prohibits players from gambling on NHL league games. Betting on other sports or events is not explicitly addressed in their regulations.

Penalties for Violations of League Gambling Rules

  • MLB – Individuals associated with MLB who violate Rule 21, which prohibits bets on baseball games not involving their teams, may face fines, a year-long suspension, or even a permanent ban from the league, similar to the infamous case of Pete Rose. Failure to report attempted gambling rule violations is also subject to penalties.
  • NBA – The NBA grants the league commissioner broad authority to discipline players who engage in any form of wagering on the outcome of games. Penalties may include fines, suspension, expulsion, or perpetual disqualification from further association with the NBA.
  • NHL – In the NHL, gambling on any NHL game is explicitly prohibited. The commissioner has the power to discipline players for off-ice conduct, and potential penalties include fines, suspension, expulsion, or cancellation of contracts.
  • NFL – The NFL handles violations of its gambling policy on a case-by-case basis. Violations considered detrimental to the league may result in penalties such as fines, termination of employment, or a lifetime ban from the NFL.

Disciplinary Actions Since the 2018 Supreme Court Decision

Several athletes have faced disciplinary actions since the Murphy vs. NCAA ruling. Recent examples include NFL players Isaiah Rodgers, Rashod Berry, and free agent Demetrius Taylor, as well as Titans’ Nicholas Petit-Frere, Lions’ Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore, Washington Commanders’ Shaka Toney, and New York Jets receivers coach Miles Austin.

Suspensions have been imposed for betting on NFL games or non-NFL sports, both within and outside of NFL-operated facilities.

Partnerships between Leagues and Gambling Companies

All four major North American sports leagues have formed partnerships with technology companies and sportsbooks, allowing the use of official league data in betting products and displaying league logos and branding in advertisements. The NHL and MLB also allow players to serve as ambassadors for gambling companies, participating in promotional or marketing appearances.

Financial Aspects and Player Involvement

Under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are entitled to a share of league revenue, including gambling revenue. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement maintains a 50-50 revenue split, excluding revenues from gambling. However, the new CBA permits players to invest in and promote gambling companies with certain restrictions.

Ownership interests in gaming companies cannot include management roles and investments related to NBA-league bets or contests are limited. Players must disclose any gaming company investments within 30 days of acquisition.

Promotional or endorsement deals are permitted but must be unrelated to NBA league wagering or outcomes and limited to non-NBA league sports.

The Murphy vs. NCAA ruling had far-reaching implications for sports betting in the United States, leading to the establishment of state-specific wagering laws. The major sports leagues responded with various regulations regarding gambling by players, penalties for rule violations, and partnerships with gambling companies.

Violations of these regulations have resulted in suspensions and other disciplinary actions for athletes. Additionally, the financial aspects related to player involvement in gambling have been addressed within the respective collective bargaining agreements of each league.

Gary McLellan

Gary is an editor here at legalsportsbooks.com and an avid sports fan with a plethora of sports betting knowledge. Using his expertise to bring you the latest tips for betting on your favorite teams, sports news, and other sports betting-related content from across the US.