Betting Suspension Puts Integrity of NFL Games Under Scrutiny

Betting Suspension Puts Integrity of NFL Games Under Scrutiny

Arizona Cardinals’ defensive back Josh Shaw was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “through at least the conclusion of the 2020 season,” after the league discovered that the player was betting on the league’s football games.

Although out of uniform due to injury, Shaw placed bets on multiple games according to league officials, but the NFL stressed in their findings that the defensive back didn’t use “any inside information” or that “any game was compromised in any way.”

The league also stated that there was no evidence to support a theory that Shaw’s gambling was known by any of his coaches, teammates or any other players in the league.

Shaw is suspended for the remainder of 2019 and all of the following 2020 season. He can submit a request for reinstatement on Feb. 15, 2021. The 27-year old is the first player in more than 35 years to be banned from a sports league for gambling.

“The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

“At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of a game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL, and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.”


Why Is Game Integrity a Growing Issue in Sports?

The Shaw suspension comes at a time when the United States is acclimating to widespread adoption of sports gambling. Throughout the legislative process in states that have or are attempting to legalize, the question of game integrity repeatedly came up before state congressional members.

For the NFL, the suspension has called into question their various gaming partnerships and the move next season for the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. The moves were seen as hypocritical and a money grab after the league continually rejected progressive views on gambling until the 2018 Supreme Court decision to legalize gambling throughout the United States.

The NFL entered into a business agreement with Caesars Entertainment in January of this year and has created gambling-influenced contests to fans through official team websites earlier in the season.

The league sent a memo to teams before last Sunday’s games reminding teams that any employee caught gambling on NFL games would be terminated immediately.

When considering the league’s image concerns, it certainly helps that Shaw has been injured all season and away from the team while recovering. To have a player on the field, betting on games would have been an enormous problem with far-reaching issues for the NFL.

And while that did not happen with Shaw, it undoubtedly opens the door to the potential for it occurring sooner than 35 years from now as sports betting becomes widespread in America.

The NFL vows to continue to be diligent with education and rule enforcement as it lectures players at the start of each season that gambling on games has serious consequences. For the 27-year old Shaw who will be forced to miss all of next season, the fallout from his suspension could signal the end of his career.

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