NFL Keeps Suspending Players This Year for Gambling On The Apps The League Promotes

Gambling in Sports

We need to talk about college and pro athletes betting on sports.

Right now, Denver Broncos defensive tackle Eyioma Uwazurike is suspended for allegedly betting on games he participated in at the NFL level, and is under criminal investigation for attempting to manipulate data to make it look like he wasn’t betting on games he played in while at Iowa State. 

His college teammate, Iowa State starting QB Hunter Dekkers, is also under criminal investigation for betting on games using his mom’s account before turning 21. 

This is on the heels of several NFL players being suspended for using legal gambling apps like FanDuel to bet while at the team facility. Players that placed bets full well knowing that star wide receiver Calvin Ridley was sitting out the entire 2022 season for betting on games while injured.

There are more players suspended from last year’s Detroit Lions team alone than the NFL suspended for gambling in its first 98 years of existence. 

College and NFL players didn’t start gambling on sports when legal mobile sports betting came on the scene. But there was no digital footprint when my teammates and I had a friendly wager on a big boxing match. Now, apps like DraftKings and Fan Duel are pumping enormous sponsorship dollars into teams and leagues directly, and as part of those agreements, they’re required to report data on betting from players, their family members, and the geofenced locations that those bets take place at. 

On one hand, the players know the rules. On the other, the league had to know that relentlessly promoting mobile gaming apps and wagering promotions was going to appeal to its members. 

Gambling, the responsible kind anyway, is done for the most part by men with disposable income. 

The one thing professional sports is full of is men with disposable income. 

I’m not saying the penalties are unfair when suspensions are issued, but leagues have to admit there’s an element of cause and effect here, and acknowledge the fact that prior to 2019, there were only three total gambling suspensions. 

I’m curious to know what you all think about this. I know my audience wagers. I keep an eye on the lines every week. Has the legalization of mobile gaming lessened the idea that athletes betting on their own sport is ‘evil?’ My generation, and the one before it, came up in the shadow of Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hit leader, being permanently banned by Cooperstown for wagers he placed as a manager. 

That was considered sports’ most unforgivable sin. Prior to Pete Rose, the worst scandal in sports history was the 1919 Chicago White Sox conspiring with professional gamblers to rig the world series. You still know them today as the “Black Sox.” 

The appeal of sports is that there isn’t a script in place. It’s what makes gambling gambling. No predetermined outcomes. But the nature of sports are also what make sports fans the most logical group to market gambling apps to. 

Think about it. Everything about being a sports fan is a gamble. When you buy tickets to a game, you’re gambling on the idea that the money you spent is going to be made worthwhile by a win. When you buy an athlete’s jersey at the Team Shop, you’re gambling that your team won’t trade that player two weeks later. Almost every dollar invested in sports is based in the hope of positive outcomes, full well knowing that in order for those outcomes to take place, you’re gonna need a few lucky bounces. 

So I want to know, is the idea of athletes betting on sports all that bad? Even their own sport, in the event that it’s not a game they have the ability to directly influence? Or should players be allowed to bet their own overs, or on their own team so long as it is to win?

Where do you draw the line on what you are and are not comfortable with?

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