The NFL is taking steps to strengthen its gambling policy and educate players on the subject following a slate of recent violations. Mandatory education sessions will be required for all rookies, and league officials are visiting team facilities to clarify prohibited activities due to increased sports gambling among athletes.
The officials will emphasize the “key rules” of its gambling policy, which include not betting on the NFL, avoiding gambling at team facilities or while traveling for a game, not having others bet for the players, not sharing inside team information, not entering sportsbooks during the season, and refraining from playing daily fantasy football.
Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy, acknowledged the evolving landscape of sports gambling and the need for caution in conversation with media.
“The availability of our phones and with a couple of touches, and all of a sudden, you can place a bet on many different things was not available a few years ago and is available now,” he said, as per ESPN.
“Sports gambling has a great deal more presence in people’s lives than it did just a few short years ago, which means for us as [a] sports league – where integrity of the game is the highest single principle – that we have to be thoughtful and careful and scrutinize how we share information and educate people around the rules that govern it.”
The league’s decision to address the media on this topic reflects its response to recent events and controversies, including the suspensions of five NFL players in April and an ongoing investigation involving Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, who is believed to have placed bets on Colts games.
The NFL also aims to intensify its monitoring and enforcement efforts, partnering with external monitoring firms and sportsbooks to create additional deterrence.
Sabrina Perel, NFL vice president, and Chief Compliance Officer, highlighted the use of multiple resources and tools, including geolocation technology, to identify and address gambling activities by players. Perel also noted the cooperation between the league and sportsbooks, with the latter notifying the NFL when a player places a bet under their own name.
While easy access to gambling may create some ambiguity in the league’s policy, Miller emphasized that the fundamental rules have always been clear, such as not betting on the NFL and refraining from gambling while at work.
He dismissed the notion that the increased availability of sports gambling should serve as an excuse. And regarding potential mixed messaging due to NFL owners’ sponsorship relationships with sportsbooks, the league asserts that there is no double standard.
“It’s just a little bit of apples and oranges,” Perel said, as reported by ESPN. “… At the end of the day, what that is about is bringing in new fans, keeping fans engaged, giving them the opportunities to engage in these things, versus what we all do personally and what we should not be doing to protect integrity.”