If Calvin Ridley Used Another App, May Never Have Been Suspended

Written By Stephen Andress on March 11, 2022
calvin ridley suspension

Calvin Ridley will lose more than $11 million in 2022 NFL salary due to his one-year gambling suspension, but if he had tried to bet using another legal online sportsbook, he may have never been suspended.

Ridley reportedly bet more than $35,000 on several sports including NFL games using Hard Rock’s app in Florida, during the short window where that sportsbook was up in running. Less than a month after quietly launching, it shut down while court battles over its legality continue.

But in other states with regulated sports betting apps, protocols are in place that either failed or were not followed with Hard Rock – protocols that could have saved Ridley from himself.

Ridley could still have been caught betting on the NFL elsewhere down the road, but in this case, the controversy was avoidable.

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Manual Player Restrictions

TheLines spoke with BetMGM sports trader Christian Cipollini for clarity on the rules, laws, monitoring and whistleblowing of players and league employees betting on their own sport. At BetMGM, Ridley may never have been able to bet on NFL games and been suspended.

“Typically during their sign up is where we will determine if the player is restricted anywhere for any reason. We also have blocking available by sport. Ridley wasn’t betting with us, but if he had signed up, we would have blocked him from betting on any NFL event,” said Cipollini.

This safeguard is not preemptive. A BetMGM employee still would have had to manually block Ridley from betting NFL, but it’s certainly part of the registration process at many legal online sportsbooks.

“We need to specifically go in and block a customer from a league,” Cipollini explained. “We would get their occupation during their sign up. So once we see ‘NFL player’, we would block them from NFL. Typically, athletes end up on a VIP list or will reach out during sign up to let us know who they are.”

If for some reason those protocols fails though, BetMGM must report the activity.

“If we see a player betting on a prohibited sport we are required to tell the regulator of that state. I have had a few times where I had a quick heart attack seeing a famous NBA player betting on an NBA event only to pull up the account and see the person just shares the same name.”

The roles in each sport that cannot bet on that league varies from sport to sport and state to state, but the NFL has a zero tolerance policy. Zero NFL employees are allowed to wager on the NFL.

“So even the junior accountant for the Bills can’t place any NFL wagers,” said Cipollini.

So can athletes bet on other sports that are not their own?

“It can vary state by state and also by league but for the most part professionals are able to wager on any league they don’t compete in,” said Cipollini. Ridley is able to bet on NBA and even college football, but he is not allowed (to bet) on NFL.”

Calvin Ridley Suspension Not The First In NFL History

Four players have been suspended by the NFL in the past before this latest Calvin Ridley suspension. Plus, a scandalous investigation into an owner with possible ties to the mob has happened.

TheLines senior writer Mo Nuwwarah shares these stories in a special feature on NFL betting stories.


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Stephen Andress

Stephen Andress joined Catena Media as Managing Editor of TheLines.com in March 2021. He began his career as a sports anchor and reporter in Eugene, OR before moving to Louisville, KY. There he covered the Kentucky Derby, Sugar Bowl and three consecutive Final Fours. Stephen later won an Emmy award while working for the Indianapolis Colts. More recently, he produced content for the PGA TOUR and multiple fantasy football and sports betting websites. Nothing has excited him more in his career than seeing legalized sports betting in the United States and the opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for it. His hobbies include kicking his high school friends' butts in fantasy football, Japanese whisky and Kentucky bourbon, golf outrights and supporting RIP Medical Debt, a charity which works to wipe out medical bills for those who have been unable to cover the cost of getting sick.

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