The suspension of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw through next season for placing a legal bet on NFL games underscores just how serious a sin the NFL, like the other pro sports leagues, considers betting on your own sport.
By all accounts, Shaw acted out of sheer ignorance of clearly stated NFL and NFL Players Association rules that NFL players (and other employees) simply cannot bet on their own sport. According to ESPN, Shaw identified himself as an NFL player at the Caesars sports book in Las Vegas and then placed a three-team parlay — which included the Cardinals, whom he picked to lose.
Shaw, who hasn’t played all season because of injury, reportedly was not acting on any inside information. Only after accepting the bet did Caesars report it.
Of the four major sports in the US, the NFL is the last one that has not fully embraced sports betting, but most consider its entry a matter of when and not if.
The other three sports are more fully invested, but they are just as wigged out as the NFL when it comes to their employees betting on their own sport.
The threat of a player being corrupted by external or internal pressure to throw games, exchange inside information, or bet on their own games is the largest “integrity” risk in the sports-betting equation.
Here are how the other leagues tackle the issue:
The Commissioner’s Office is charged with both education about and the enforcement of sports betting policies, with in-person sessions held at spring training. The league’s Department of Investigations looks into all allegations of policy violations.
Punishments are clearly laid out in Rule 21: Bet on a game in which the MLB employee has no attachment to, and the employee is suspended for a year. Bet on a game in which the MLB employee is playing in or involved with in any way, and the player is “permanently ineligible.”
And any MLB employee who gets caught placing bets with bookies on the black market is subject to a penalty at the commissioner’s discretion. Working for an illegal bookmaker is cause for a suspension of at least one year.
Articles 35 and 35A of the NBA Constitution deal with players and other league employees betting on games, and they grant the commissioner nearly unlimited discretion to punish the guilty in a decision that will be considered “final, binding, and conclusive and unappealable.” Punishments range from a fine or suspension to permanent disqualification from further association with the NBA.
Bylaw 17.3 in the NHL rulebook grants the commissioner the power to expel, suspend and/or fine a club, club official, or player for conduct “that has been dishonorable, prejudicial to, or against the welfare of the league or the game of hockey,” according to John Dellapina, NHL senior vice president/communications. A player who bets on an NHL game is specifically singled out as an example of misconduct.
The league’s Security Department is responsible for educating NHL employees in two settings: at the annual NHL/NHLPA Rookie Orientation Program, and during an annual fall tour of teams when players, coaches, and management are given refresher courses on betting and other misconduct issues.
Treat, don’t punish
The MLB Players Association held its annual board meeting this week, and one of the outcomes, according to the Associated Press, is that it wants players who test positive for opioids to receive treatment, not suspensions. The issue arose after the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs last summer. Skaggs died in his Dallas hotel room from a toxic mix of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol, according to a Texas medical examiner. Also, the union is not wild about the proposal to require a three-batter minimum for pitchers, a rule MLB can impose next season if it wishes. But according to executive director Tony Clark, the union is agreeable to reducing the amount of time between innings to 1 minute and 55 seconds . . . In The Athletic, NFLPA president Eric Winston downplayed a report in the Washington Post last month that the players and owners had made “meaningful progress” in CBA negotiations and that a new deal, which would include a 17-game regular season, could be finalized before the Super Bowl. “I haven’t seen that,” said Winston . . . Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman of Needham has launched a makeup line, Fierce By Aly, with LimeLife by Alcone.
Reddit revealed a map, based on Google trends and survey data, of each state’s “most popular team.” No surprise, the Patriots were tops in Massachusetts, as well as in Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. The Red Sox were No. 1 in Vermont, while Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York all love the Yankees. The NFL was the state leader with 21, followed by NCAA football (17), MLB (8), and the NBA (3, Utah, Oregon, Oklahoma). College basketball (Kentucky) and the NHL (Nevada) had one apiece (the District of Columbia was counted as a state) . . . . Esports are coming to the New England Collegiate Conference next fall, becoming the conference’s 16th sport. Just two other Division 3 conferences around the country offer esports, and the NECC is the first in New England. “Esports is one of the fastest-growing competitive efforts on college campuses, and it is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand the impact of the New England Collegiate Conference beyond traditional sports on campus,” said NECC commissioner Jacob VanRyn in a statement.