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US Sports Betting 2023: Is NFL Hypocritical For Suspending Players For Gambling Violations?

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Jim Miller attempted to make a point, with emphasis.  

“You can’t lie in bed with the devil, and not think you’re going to get burned,” the former NFL quarterback told The Associated Press.

One NFL franchise, the Washington Commanders, has a sportsbook located inside the confines of FedEx Field. Three others, the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and New York Jets, station sportsbooks close to their stadiums. Soon, Miller envisioned all 32 clubs will provide on-site gambling access to interested parties. 

Yet, NFL officials suspended five players last Friday for wagering on team premises. 

Are league representatives being hypocritical?  

Or diligent? 

 Jim Miller: ‘I Think It’s Hypocritical’

Professional football has endured a long, sometimes dark, history with illegal gambling. But now that’s it’s legal in more than two-thirds of the US, NFL watchdogs continue to keep a close eye on the players.  

League disciplinarians issued indefinite suspensions to Detroit Lions safety C.J. Moore and wide receiver Quintez Cephus and Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney. It also handed six-game dismissals to Lions wide receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill. As a result, the Lions immediately released Moore and Cepheus. 

Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized online sports gambling. The Commanders will not stand alone for long as the only franchise with an in-stadium sportsbook. At their annual meeting last month, NFL owners voted to permit any club in a legalized state to host a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. 

US sports betting is evolving into another lucrative revenue stream for the owners. NFL teams are now pursuing sponsorships from gambling websites. The NFL is setting itself up to make millions (billions?) off online wagering. Is it not two-faced to place Draconian laws on the players? 

“I think it’s hypocritical,” said Miller, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears. “Soon, you’ll be able to make bets in (most) NFL stadiums.  

“That being said, the players are well aware of the rules. They have seminars and stuff up in the locker room to educate them.” 

Larry Stevens: ‘The Whole Situation Is A Joke’ 

The NFL invokes strict gambling guidelines for a one essential reason, maintaining the game’s integrity. All league and team employees are forbidden to engage in any type of gambling at any club-related event or building.  

Former players know the score.  

“The whole situation is a joke that the NFL and its teams profit off gambling, but players can’t gamble,” ex-linebacker Larry Stevens told The AP. “It’s also a joke how inconsistent the NFL is with suspensions. There have been guys who have beaten up wives and girlfriends, giving the league blatant black eyes, that were suspended as long as these guys were for gambling on non-NFL games.” 

A regulation loophole does exist for players. They can bet on college and professional athletics, but not the NFL and not while on company premises, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. 

Moore, Cephus and Toney received harsher penalties because they bet on NFL games during the 2022 season, while Williams and Berryhill wagered on other sports. 

 “The NFL has always taken an aggressive approach with players and gambling,” Miller said. “When I was in Chicago, (former commissioner) Paul Tagliabue came to town and told a teammate the league knew he was hanging out with a friend who owned a casino and told him he could not do that anymore.” 

Is it hypocritical? 

Or diligent?

NFL Betting Guides 2023 

Jeff Hawkins is an award-winning sportswriter with more than four decades in the industry (print and digital media). A freelance writer/stay-at-home dad since 2008, Hawkins started his career with newspaper stints in Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Upstate New York and Illinois, where he earned the 2004 APSE first-place award for column writing (under 40,000 circulation). As a beat writer, he covered NASCAR Winston Cup events at NHIS (1999-2003), the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks (2003-06) and the NFL's Carolina Panthers (2011-12). Hawkins penned four youth sports books, including a Michael Jordan biography. Hawkins' main hobbies include mountain bike riding, 5k trail runs at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C., and live music.

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