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The National Football League (NFL) has revised its players’ gambling policies. On Friday, ESPN and other sources revealed the new policies that will impose harsh penalties on players who bet on NFL games.
Other policies regarding betting on non-NFL games have been relaxed. This is leading to the early reinstatement of some players that had violated previous league policies. However, the new policies surrounding gambling could lead to violators eventually receiving a lifetime ban.
ESPN reported on Friday that they received a memo from the NFL regarding its new policies on gambling. The new guidelines address betting on NFL games by players and betting on non-NFL games inside team facilities.
The policies surrounding betting on NFL games have been toughened. Effective immediately, any player caught betting on NFL games will face a minimum one-year suspension from the league. If the player is betting on their team, the minimum suspension is two years.
Next, the memo announced that any player caught fixing or trying to fix games will receive a lifetime ban. Any player giving tips or insider information will be subject to a ban of at least one year. The same ban applies to any third-party or proxy betting on NFL games.
In a joint statement from the NFL and the NFL Players Association on Friday, “The NFL and NFL Players Association share a longstanding and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of the game.
The NFL periodically reviews the gambling policy in consultation with the NFLPA and clubs to ensure it is responsive to changing circumstances and fully addresses this commitment.”
The NFL also revised its policies regarding betting on non-NFL games at team facilities. Under the new guidelines, any player betting on non-NFL sports while in the workplace will receive a two-game suspension without pay for the first offence.
A second offence will carry a six-game suspension, and a third offence will carry a one-year ban. These new rules will impact the suspensions of current NFL players. Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Nick Petit-Frere and free agent Stanley Berryhill will all be eligible to return to the NFL on Monday.
The players had previously been suspended six games due to violating league gambling policies. However, since the penalties are now reduced, they can return to the league. Furthermore, several players who received indefinite suspensions can now apply for reinstatement. This includes Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney and Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a federal statute that banned sports betting in most areas of the country. Since then, over half of the country has legalized sports betting. The NFL has been forced to suspend 12 players, one assistant coach, and multiple league officials for violating league gambling policies.
According to a July memo from the league, the NFL Commissioner will have discretion when determining penalties for gambling policy violators. They will consider betting history, patterns of behaviour, if the player made attempts to influence or fix games, and other factors will influence the potential penalties.
For example, if a player commits a violation and self-reports, they are more likely to get a reduced suspension than someone caught giving game tips. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on the policies, stating, “We periodically review the NFL Gambling Policy to ensure that it is responsive to changing circumstances and fully addresses our commitment to protect the integrity of the game.
The revised gambling policy that we are issuing today provides that clarity and focus, and gives clear guidance to players about the consequences of violating the policy.”