Over the summer, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hinted that changes were forthcoming in the league’s sports betting policy following a tumultuous period in which nearly a dozen players came under investigation for gambling-related violations.
Last week, the NFL instituted major changes to the policy in approving more stringent penalties against players caught betting on league games. Wagering on the NFL now carries an indefinite suspension of at least one year, which will rise to a minimum of two years if a player bets on his own team. If the NFL determines that a player fixes a game, he will be subject to a lifetime ban under the policy modifications.
At the same time, the NFL is easing penalties against players who wager on non-NFL sports from inside a club or league facility. Two players found to have done that, Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams and Titans offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere, had their six-game suspensions reduced to four. Players who are caught betting on non-NFL sports from a team facility will now receive a two-game suspension for their first offense.
“The NFL and NFL Players Association share a longstanding and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of the game. The NFL periodically reviews the gambling policy in consultation with the NFLPA and clubs to ensure it is responsive to changing circumstances and fully addresses this commitment,” the NFL and the NFLPA said in a joint statement last Friday.
The policy modifications come nearly three months after a prominent congresswoman from Nevada urged the NFL to provide greater transparency into the league’s protocols on gambling. U.S. Rep. Dina Titus in July called on the NFL to revamp policies she believed were unclear for NFLPA members, contending that some players did not know what was permissible under league rules. Following the changes, Titus applauded the NFL for creating a clearer delineation between wagering activity on non-football events and gambling that threatens the integrity of the game.