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Professional sports leagues like the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NHL have all had strict policies on gambling. The explosion of online gambling over the last few years has forced the leagues to strengthen their stances on gambling. Recently, players from the NHL and PGA Tour have been suspended due to gambling activities.
In the NHL, Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto has been suspended from 41 games for gambling activities. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour has suspended Vince India and Jake Staiano of the Korn Ferry Tour for betting on golf tournaments.
On 26 October, the NHL suspended Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for half a season for his involvement in sports betting activities. This suspension equates to 41 games. According to a press release issued on the matter, the suspension was due to sports wagering activities. However, the NHL clarified that Pinto did not bet on NHL games.
The NHL, like many sports leagues, has strict anti-gambling policies. In many cases, players are not permitted to bet on any sports whatsoever. Penalties are harshest on players who bet on games in their league, and those who make bets on games they are involved in often receive the longest bans.
Pinto did not appeal the suspension, taking accountability for his actions. He also released a statement through the Ottawa Senators: “I want to apologise to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family. I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
Pinto is the first NHL player to receive a gambling suspension since the United States Supreme Court made sports betting legal nationwide in 2018. Since then, over half of states have legalised sports betting in some form.
The suspension does not appear to have an impact on Pinto’s immediate future with the team. Coach D.J. Smith told reporters that the forward will be welcomed back to the team once the suspension is completed.
The other major sports league to suspend players recently is the PGA Tour. While not reported until recently, the tour suspended two Korn Ferry Tour players in September for betting on professional golf competitions.
Jake Staiano has been suspended for three months, while Vince India has received a six-month suspension. Both players were found to have made bets on pro golfing events. However, in the case of Staiano, the punishment may not fit the crime.
Following his suspension, Staiano recently was a guest on the Any Given Monday podcast and revealed that his suspension resulted from bets totalling $116.20. One of the bets was a $25 prop bet on Bryson DeChambeau making a birdie during a hole of a PGA Tour Event. The remaining bets were on the TV exhibition between DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka in 2021.
Staiano believed that his bets on the TV event did not matter because the event was an exhibition and not an official tour event. Clearly, the league did not agree as they decided to hand down the steep penalty.
The details of India’s transgressions are currently unknown. However, he took to Twitter to apologise for his actions. Due to the length of the suspension, one would assume his actions were substantially greater than Staiano’s.
The PGA Tour has received criticism over what seems heavy-handed suspensions, particularly after the well-publicised gambling actions of Phil Mickelson. Players and fans of the tour have long criticised the tour for ignoring major problems in the industry while hyperfocusing on minor issues, such as someone betting $100 on an exhibition.