NFL revises gambling policy for players and staff

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After strong criticism that the league’s policy lacked clarity and was overly harsh, the NFL has revised its rules around the punishments for players and staff betting on sports.

Since the repeal of PASPA, roughly a dozen players have missed games stemming from suspensions related to gambling. While some, like Calvin Ridley, were betting on NFL games, others, like Jameson Williams, were betting on non-NFL games while at NFL facilities.

For Williams and Tennessee Titans player Nicolas Petit-Frere, the new policy means they can get back on the field sooner. Both were suspended six games for wagering at team facilities and have sat out four games so far this season. The new policy will only sit players for two games on the first offense of betting while at team facilities. Accordingly, both Williams and Petit-Frere can play with their respective teams starting this week.

Second-time offenders of betting on non-NFL games while at team facilities will sit six games.

While the league has eased the punishment for betting on non-NFL games, the punishment for betting on games within the league is now very harsh.

Betting on a game in which the player’s team is not involved will invoke a one-year suspension. Betting on a game a player’s team is involved in will result in a two-year ban. Anyone providing insider information or using third-party proxies to bet will be suspended indefinitely for a minimum of one year.

If a player is caught throwing a game, they will be permanently banned from the league.

“The NFL and NFL Players Association share a longstanding and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of the game,” the league and players’ union said in a joint statement Friday. “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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo.

Rep. Dina Titus called the NFL out earlier this year for its vague gambling policies. In the wake of the new policy, Titus released a statement commending the league.

“Today the NFL and its Players Association took a step in the right direction toward transparency on sports betting. Clear, consistent, and appropriate penalties assure fans that the games they choose to bet on are fair. That’s why I called the NFL out for a lack of clarity in their policies earlier this year, as players did not understand what conduct was permissible under league rules,” she said.

“I’m glad that the NFL created a distinction between behavior that threatens the integrity of the game and legal wagering on other sports. Penalties for game fixing and betting on one’s own league should be more serious than betting on other sports. Every sports league should remain focused on protecting the product on the field. Leagues should periodically review their policies, in consultation with players, to ensure that rules are understood and updated when necessary.”