Sports betting was only legalised in the United States in 2021, and already seven NFL stars have been caught gambling – including three new cases of players betting on American football games.
Quintez Cephus and CJ Moore of the Detroit Lions, plus Washington Commanders’ Shaka Toney, have been banned for the entire 2023/24 campaign and may have to apply to be reinstalled thereafter following a charge of betting on NFL games last season. Detroit have confirmed they have released Cephus and Moore from their contracts.
Another Lions pair, Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams, have been suspended for six games after they were accused of betting on sport – but not NFL games, which carries the heavier punishment.
However, the NFL have been keen to stress that there has been no evidence that the integrity of the competition, or any of its games, has been affected.
“A league review uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way,” their statement reads.
The suspensions of Williams and Berryhill appear to have come about after they placed online bets on other sports whilst on the premises of the Lions – they’re not banned from gambling on sports other than football, but it’s their location when doing so that has got them into hot water.
Players are not allowed to bet while at a ‘team facility’, nor are they allowed to wager during ‘team-related travel’ either, on any sports. They are banned completely from punting on NFL games, player/team awards or the Draft.
American sports, and particularly the NFL, have been targeted by gambling firms ever since a law change in the US Supreme Court allowed for each state to decide whether they wanted to legalise sports betting or not.
More than 20 have so far done so, and now a handful of major sporting venues – including the home stadium of the Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns – now have their own dedicated sportsbook on site.
TV spectators are also inundated with gambling ads before, during and after NFL games, and those have become so widespread that the NFL has now joined forces with the NBA, Major League Baseball and other leading competitions to form the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising.
Together, they will aim to improve the standard of gambling ads and ensure they are targeted at those of a legal betting age.
Their task has been made harder by the antics of the five banned players, who have followed in the footsteps of Calvin Ridley. He was suspended for the entirety of the 2022 season after being found guilty of betting on NFL games – including those involving his team at the time, the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta decided to trade Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars – he has now been reinstated as an NFL player, as has Josh Shaw, who was previously banned for some 16 months after betting against his own team, the Arizona Cardinals, in a contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.