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The NFL is increasing efforts to educate players and others about its gambling policy, a source told OutKick on Tuesday, on the heels of multiple players being suspended for gambling last month and several others becoming the subject of ongoing investigations into their gambling activities.
Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday the league will conduct a presentation to his team to explain the gambling policy and answer questions.
The Commanders recently lost defensive end Shaka Toney to an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. That suspension will last at least one year and has made his future with the club uncertain.
Commanders Step Up Gambling Education
“The first thing we did when it first broke, initially, we did have a player that was involved, unfortunately,” Rivera said Tuesday. “We reached out to the league and asked them if they had a power point deck they could send and share with us. And so Malcolm (Blacken, director of player development), he took charge of it. We got Mike Jacobs, our director of security here involved as well. Then we presented to the players. And it’s presented to them every year. But what we did was we did an extra emphasis in it.
“And then I believe it’s tomorrow (Wednesday) the league will have a presentation as well. So we will continue that. It’s a presentation we will do during training camp as well again. (It’s) just so we continue to hammer these things home that we’ve got to be very, very careful and understand that the integrity of the league, and integrity of each team, and the players own integrity, and coaches’ integrity, for that matter, are at stake. And we have to be very diligent about that.”
The NFL did not immediately return an email from OutKick seeking further clarification of its plans to provide teams and players with more education about its gambling policy.
But the step would make sense.
Players Claiming Ignorance Is Problematic
The NFL, you see, takes “integrity of the game” very seriously.
Having players potentially gamble on games is obviously an issue that tarnishes the NFL’s integrity and so the recent uptick of gambling suspensions suggests the league should be concerned about the matter.
The NFL has suspended five players for gambling violations so far this offseason — Detroit’s Jameson Williams, Stanley Berryhill, Quintez Cephus, and C.J. Moore, along with Toney of the Commanders.
The league is reportedly continuing gambling investigations into multiple other players and on Monday it was learned Colts defensive back Isaiah Rodgers is the target of one of those investigations. Rodgers, in discussing the matter on his social media, seemingly admitted guilt and showed contrition for his actions relative to the gambling policy.
Colts Defensive Back Under Investigation
So where does this leave us?
Assuming the NFL’s presence in Washington will spread to other clubs, it shows an emphasis on education. This addresses a report by The Athletic in which several players professed ignorance about some gambling policy aspects.
Williams told reporters he was not aware of the rule that bans placing bets from a team facility. Interestingly, if Williams had walked away from the facility and placed the same bet on a non-NFL game away from the Lions facility, that would be allowed.
And that’s the thing about the NFL’s gambling policy: Obviously written by lawyers after a negotiation between the league and the NFL Players Association, it is filled with nuance that can be hard to grasp unless it’s fully explained.
Some of the rules are clear:
No illegal gambling of any sort.
No betting on football.
This applies to everyone.
NFL Gambling Policy Has Issues
But players are allowed to bet on other sports. That exempts them in a major way. Because personnel including employees in the league office, owners, coaches, athletic trainers, game officials, security personnel, game-day stadium personnel and other staff, consultants and temporary contract workers are prohibited from betting on other sports.
So an NFL player can bet on the NBA Finals, but the guy contracted to work in the stadium cannot. But the player can only make that bet if he’s not at the team facility or on a team bus. Or a team charter.
The NFL obviously has an issue with the total understanding of its gambling policy. And it has a perception problem because any critical thinker juxtaposing that policy with known facts sees obvious inconsistencies.
The known facts:
The NFL holds fast to its policy while allowing New England owner Robert Kraft and Dallas owner Jerry Jones to retain their equity investments in DraftKings sportsbook.
Kraft And Jones Own Sportsbook Interests
The NFL itself has three official sportsbook partners — Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel — and allows sportsbooks to operate at league stadiums.
The NFL condones point spreads and odds to be integrated into pregame shows by its media partners.
Those broadcast partners make money from selling advertising time to sportsbooks during NFL games. Then they pay the league vast sums for the broadcast rights to those games.
And the league policy applies to all teams although 15 of them are located in states where gambling is legal.
Those inconsistencies, a lack of immersion on the policy and human nature to engage in gambling, and you have issues. Those can and have led to suspensions.
It’s an issue the NFL is fighting on one front to preserve its integrity. While being part of the problem on another front.