Report: NFL investigating 2nd wave of potential gambling policy violations

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A new report indicates that the National Football League is reportedly investigating another batch of violations connected to the league’s policy on gambling.

ESPN’s David Purdum explored the issue of the NFL’s more relaxed policy toward gambling and the link to additional violations.

“In the wake of five players being suspended in April, the NFL is investigating a second wave of potential violations of its gambling policy, multiple sources told ESPN,” wrote Purdum. “The uptick in gambling-related issues comes five years after a landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

That ruling came on May 14, 2018 and decreed that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that restricted sports betting should be thrown out. PASPA had largely prevented states other than Nevada from allowing sports betting.

The NFL had been one of the plaintiffs in that case. However, once the case was decided, the league’s once-stringent focus on gambling was lessened considerably.

Even though the league’s rules on gambling have lightened up, anyone connected to the NFL is still prohibited from “placing, soliciting or facilitating any bet, whether directly or through a third party” on NFL games, practices and other league events such as the annual draft or combine.

Since that 2018 Supreme Court ruling, five NFL players have received one-year suspensions for allegedly betting on league games. Three of those bans were levied in April of this year.

At the same time as those suspensions, two wide receivers for the Detroit Lions, Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill, were suspended for six games this season. Their particular violations stemmed from their decisions to allegedly place wagers on other sports from the Lions’ team facility.

The NFL was able to detect such violations due to sports betting apps that can detect where users are placing wagers.

While the NFL’s attention to this matter is notable, the league-wide embrace of gambling services and development of sportsbooks within stadiums is drastically different from decades ago.

The NFL has experienced previous gambling scandals, most notably in 1963. At that time, then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras for one year each after they were found to have bet on league games.

More recently, the league’s aversion to even the hint of a connection to gambling sometimes reached absurd heights.

For example, after NBC began broadcasting Sunday Night Football in 2006, the league went so far as to ban the network from advertising its then-network show “Las Vegas” during NFL games.

Undoubtedly, this most recent wave of gambling violations won’t be the last time the NFL has to deal with this issue. Sports gambling only figures to grow, with more and more states legalizing it.

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Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.