MLB & NBA Should Follow NFL Response To Players Breaking Sports Betting Rules

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
ohtani gambling

Recent sports betting scandals in the NBA and MLB have dominated the news cycle, highlighting the need for a clear gambling policy. The Shohei Ohtani gambling scandal reportedly involved his now-fired interpreter allegedly stealing millions from the Dodgers star to pay off an illegal gambling debt. The MLB is investigating. Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter is being investigated after attempted five-figure bets on his player props were flagged.

Both players remain under investigation, and neither league has expressed any inclination toward punishment yet. There are, however, clear examples of how the NBA and MLB should handle these situations, and they can be found in the NFL. The NFL’s swift handling of their own sports betting issues sets the tone for how all pro leagues should look at dealing with an ever-growing sports betting world.

NFL’s Response To Gambling Scandals

Last year, ahead of the 2023 regular season, multiple players were suspended for betting on sports. The NFL gambling policy has strict rules regarding players wagering and a harsh response for those who violate the policy. NFL players, staff, and employees are prohibited from betting on NFL games. They are also banned from betting on other sports while on NFL grounds.

Detroit Lions players Quintez Cephus, C.J. Moore, Jameson Williams, and Stanley Berryhill received suspensions alongside Washington Commanders player Shaka Toney. Berryhill and Williams were initially suspended for six games, with the other players seeing indefinite suspensions. Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, spearheaded the quick response.

This wasn’t the only example of the NFL being strict about players violating gambling rules, either. WR Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season after wagering on NFL games during the 2021 season.

NFL’s Continued Efforts TO Push Gambling Policy

Even following the scandals, the NFL did not rest. Retired NFL QB Tom Brady was given the position of spokesperson for the league’s gambling policy. Brady appeared in an educational video for players hammering home the repercussions of violating the NFL’s gambling policy.

Ahead of Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas, Goodell released a memo to players and staff outlining conduct for the weekend. Players were not allowed to gamble at all, including casino gambling, before the Super Bowl. The rules prohibited players and personnel from even entering gambling facilities. Players could not even go into a sportsbook to order food or drinks.

The harsh rules are another example of how the NFL has set a tone to combat any perception of a lack of integrity in the outcome of games.

NBA And MLB Should Take Notes

That brings us to the other two major sporting leagues now dealing with their own sports betting scandals. Both the NBA and MLB need to take a hard stance in the same way the NFL has done. Gambling policy should be transparent and made clear to all players and staff. It should also be clearly communicated to fans what gambling rules players and coaches must follow.

And the punishment should be a harsh deterrent.

The integrity of sports is essential as fans will be hard-pressed to support products they believe are being manipulated for betting. Bettors will also be less inclined to wager on sports if they feel an outcome could be predetermined.

We do not know yet if the Porter and Ohtani gambling investigations will show the players were involved in betting or sharing inside information. But the leagues need to think hard about their public response.

What they do next could set the tone for any potential gambling scandal that may arise in the future, regardless of the Ohtani gambling investigation involving a face of the sport and the Porter probe involving a fringe NBA player.