With the NFL preseason underway, the league reiterated its opposition to employees being involved with any kind of gambling this week. An NFL source told TheLines that employees and contractors were all emailed a copy of the league’s gambling policy on Wednesday.
The document spelled out all the league’s policies regarding sports betting, fantasy sports, and casino-style games. It is similar to the policy announced last year, but our source said this was the first time he and others in the league were directly sent the policy.
It’s believed all players, coaches, owners, and other employees received the emailed document.
“We didn’t get it last year or any other,” the employee said. “They definitely covered their bases.”
A big betting reminder
The league said the NFL is committed to maintaining game and spells out in detail what is and isn’t allowed in the document.
“Gambling, particularly betting on NFL games or other sports, presents risks to the integrity of our competition and team cohesion, and can undermine the confidence and trust of our fans and colleagues in America’s greatest game. We therefore owe it to our fans and everyone associated with the League to take all appropriate steps to safeguard our game against possible threats from illegal gambling as well as gambling in a legal, regulated context.”
To make the point clear, the policy notes this about various gambling-related activities from match-fixing to fantasy football:
- No illegal gambling including offshore or in states without legal sports betting.
- No gambling in any form on any NFL games at all including through third parties.
- Players must always give a “best effort” in any game to avoid any impropriety.
- Offering inside information or tips on a team or game is banned.
- Personnel may not visit or enter a sportsbook during the season.
- No wagering is allowed in any form in any club or league facility.
- Players may not promote any kind of gambling entity.
Also, employees and owners may not own a share in any casino or entity with revenue from sports betting. That doesn’t apply, however, to mutual fund shares and other “passive investment” holdings.
What is allowed for NFL players and employees
The league does note that personnel “may place non-sports wagers at legally-operated casinos and horse or dog racing tracks on personal time, including during the season.” However, with the league-wide distribution of the policy some have become nervous about participating in fantasy football leagues.
The league does allow personnel to compete in traditional fantasy leagues, but not with any prize over $250. Participating in daily fantasy, however, is a violation of the policy.
“These prohibitions are intended to avoid any appearance of impropriety which may result from participation in fantasy football games by individuals perceived to have an unfair advantage due to their preferential access to information,” the policy notes.
The policy’s reaffirmation among league personnel shows the league is still keeping the industry at arm’s length.
Along with gambling restrictions, the policy offers information on reporting obligations. NFL personnel are expected to report any gambling debt above $10,000, policy violations, or gambling associations
It also reaffirmed that punishment remains at the discretion of Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Apparent or alleged violations of this Policy by NFL Personnel will continue to be decided by the Commissioner or his designee on a case-by-case basis,” it notes. “Violations of this Policy constitute conduct detrimental to the League and will subject the involved Club and/or person(s) to appropriate disciplinary action by the Commissioner.”
Disciplinary action could include a fine, termination of employment, or a lifetime ban. It seems the league is getting even more serious about the policy.
An added policy for game days
The league also announced another new policy addition for the upcoming season. The NFL is changing its statistics collection procedures this season, adding an “observer” in each stats booth to look over the process.
The addition of the position was announced as part of the league-wide emailed sent to employees.