U.S. Betting Expansion Impacting Sport Integrity, Say Industry Experts

June 9, 2023
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Sports-betting operators are not ready for a divorce yet from the nation’s professional sports leagues despite another violation of sports gambling rules in the National Football League (NFL).

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Sports-betting operators are not ready for a divorce yet from the nation’s professional sports leagues despite another violation of sports gambling rules in the National Football League (NFL).

“It’s important to note that nothing we have learned to date indicates any effort to alter the outcome of a game, but rather involves players betting on NFL games or at team facilities in violation of league policy,” Joe Asher, president of sports betting for IGT, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an email.

Both Asher and Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of Superbook Sports Operations at the Westgate Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, expressed disappointment after this week’s allegations that Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers bet on hundreds of games, including some wagers on his own team.

But like Asher, Kornegay is not prepared to abandon the lucrative five-year partnerships and alliances forged between sportsbooks, leagues and teams since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of May 2018.

“With expanded wagering, we should expect some of this,” Kornegay told VIXIO in a phone interview.

“I still think we can partner with one another. We’re just like the leagues — we don’t want a black eye because of bets on games where the results are pre-determined. For sportsbooks, the F-word is ‘fixed.’’’

The NFL and the National Football League Players Association so far have remained mum on the investigation into Rodgers’ bets.

Rodgers has been more forthcoming, falling on his sword on Monday by using his Twitter account to acknowledge his violation.

“I’ve let people down that I care about,” he said.

“I made an error in judgment and I am going to work hard to make sure that those mistakes are rectified through this process. It’s an honor to play in the NFL and I have never taken that lightly. I am very sorry for all of this.”

Rodgers did not say whether he bet on his team, the Colts, or more importantly whether he bet on his team’s opponent in any games.

If Rodgers did wager against his team in a game in which he played and could control the outcome, his punishment is likely to be more severe.

The Rodgers’ investigation is just the latest in a series of sports-betting controversies in the NFL since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on May 14, 2018, which opened the floodgates for lawful wagers on games across the nation.

On April 21, the NFL announced the suspension of five players — four on the Detroit Lions and one on the Washington Commanders — for betting on league games and college games while at team facilities.

Calvin Ridley, a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is coming off a one-year suspension for wagering on games in November 2021 while he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

Ridley bet on the games while he was away from the Falcons receiving mental health treatment.

The NFL rule violations started in November 2019 when then-Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw placed a parlay bet at a Las Vegas sportsbook operated by Caesars Entertainment.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Shaw for the remainder of the 2019 season and the entire 2020 season.

Shaw never played in the NFL again.

“The Nevada Gaming Control Board strongly encourages all sports organizations to maintain effective gaming policies for their athletes and employees,” Kirk Hendrick, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told VIXIO in a prepared statement on Thursday (June 8).

“The board works with regulators from around the world to investigate any suspected illegal wagering activity, and to protect the integrity of the sports wagering industry in Nevada.”

The Supreme Court decision may have confused players about what they can and cannot do when it comes to sports betting.

“Before the decision, if a player found out I was running a sportsbook, he looked at me like I had COVID,” Kornegay said.

“They knew they couldn’t bet on any games.”

Asher, the IGT sports-betting executive, said he is glad legendary former NFL quarterback Tom Brady, often called the GOAT (or Greatest of All Time), has reportedly agreed to record a video for the NFL telling current players why they should not bet on games.

“We don’t know how widespread this (sports betting by NFL players) was in the black market (before the Supreme Court decision), but the very nature of a legal and regulated market has allowed this conduct to come to light and for the infractions to be addressed, which is a good thing,” Asher said.

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