The NFL’s ongoing efforts to curb sports betting infractions among players are gaining momentum as the league reportedly delves into a new wave of investigations ahead of the upcoming 2023 season.
Following the suspension of five players for gambling last month, the NFL is now examining further potential violations, according to ESPN. Although specific details of the investigations remain undisclosed, the league has previously established a framework for addressing players and staff who engage in betting activities related to NFL games or place wagers within team facilities.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, previously with the Atlanta Falcons and now a player of the Jacksonville Jaguars, served a one-year suspension in 2022 after the NFL determined he had bet on NFL games while away from his team. Ridley initially faced an indefinite suspension but later had his penalty adjusted.
Cornerback C.J. Moore and Detroit Lions' wide receiver Quintez Cephus
The Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Quintez Cephus, cornerback C.J. Moore, and the Washington Commanders’ defensive end Shaka Toney will face similar suspensions after the league discovered that they, like Ridley, had engaged in betting on NFL games.
Meanwhile, Lions receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill received six-game suspensions for placing bets on non-NFL games within NFL facilities. In addition to player suspensions, New York Jets’ wide receivers coach Miles Austin faced a minimum one-year suspension in 2022 for betting on table games and non-NFL games at team facilities.
Lions receiver Stanley Berryhill
Former Arizona Cardinals safety Josh Shaw, who was suspended in 2019 for betting on games, served a one-year suspension in 2021 and has since played in the USFL for the Birmingham Stallions.
The NFL embraced the world of sports betting PASPA’s repeal in 2018, forging significant partnerships with key stakeholders. As a result, gambling promotions and content have become intertwined with in-game analysis like never before, and sportsbooks can now operate within team stadiums. The apparent contradiction between the league’s anti-gambling policy and its financial ventures in the gambling industry has raised concerns.
Players and team staff receive written notices and attend meetings to be educated about the league’s anti-gambling policy, leading to questions about the dichotomy between the policy and the increasing influence of gambling-related content.
In response to violations, the league has developed effective methods for identifying policy breaches. Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association issued a memo to agents cautioning them about the league’s ability to track players’ use of sports betting apps, which played a role in the recent suspensions.
Geo-tracking software, which was used to expose Ridley’s betting activity in 2022, was employed to detect the violations. While the NFL capitalizes on sponsorship opportunities and maintains relevance in a growing market, players continue to face the consequences of their gambling infractions.
The latest report from ESPN suggests that more violations may come to light as the NFL investigates a second wave of potential breaches of its gambling policy. Moreover, companies are reportedly developing platforms capable of tracking bets placed by players and coaches. In this scenario, the NFL could provide a list of “prohibited bettors” to the platform, which would then be shared with sportsbooks. If any individual on the list attempts to place a wager, the transaction would be flagged.
While NFL players are permitted to legally bet on sports other than the NFL, they are prohibited from placing bets from team facilities or while traveling with the team. This was the case for Lions wide receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill III, who were caught engaging in such behavior and subsequently received six-game suspensions.
However, Cephus, Moore, and Toney were found to have gambled on NFL games, resulting in indefinite suspensions of at least one year. Berryhill, Cephus, and Moore have since been released by their respective teams.
Over the past five years, a total of seven NFL players, at least one assistant coach, and an unknown number of team employees have violated the league’s gambling policy. The NFL, however, has emphasized that no evidence of game manipulation has been found during these investigations.