The NFL’s struggles with gambling violations have not been an issue for the Baltimore Ravens. That fact is not stopping Baltimore General Manager Eric DeCosta from getting ahead of future issues.
As Ravens players filed in for mandatory minicamp this month, DeCosta spoke directly to the team. His goal was to clearly outline the NFL’s gambling policy as early as possible so there is no confusion entering the season.
DeCosta’s caution is not unfounded. In April, five NFL players were suspended for violations of the gambling policy. About two months later, an investigation was opened against a sixth player.
Details of DeCosta’s message to the Ravens
The MD online sports betting market is thriving, as players have their choice of 10 sportsbooks. There are around the same number of retail books open to bettors in Maryland.
When DeCosta spoke to the Ravens, his talk focused on the details of the NFL’s gambling policy as well as the severity of possible punishments. Recently, those punishments have taken the form of a year-long suspension or a six-game suspension.
DeCosta’s efforts came in tandem with a league-wide push to educate league personnel about the gambling policy. Part of that effort is sharing six key rules that players must follow. These rules were explained by Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, and Sabrina Perel, the NFL’s chief compliance officer.
- Don’t bet on the NFL
- Don’t gamble at your team facility, while traveling for a road game or staying at a team hotel
- Don’t have someone bet for you
- Don’t share team “inside information”
- Don’t enter a sportsbook during the NFL playing season
- Don’t play daily fantasy football
There are always worries that a miscommunication could lead to violations, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes the sports betting language is straight forward.
“It does concern you that it’s not always too clear. The clearest thing would be [to] just stay away from it, but guys are going to be on vacation, and they may play blackjack or whatever; there’s nothing wrong with that, if they do that. But it is very clear in terms of sports gambling, in terms of where you can be during the season, those kinds of things, and in terms of not betting on football – period, end of story. That’s pretty darn clear.”
Past violations of the NFL’s gambling policy
Five NFL players – four from the Detroit Lions and one from the Washington Commanders – were found in violation of the NFL’s gambling policy two months ago. Soon, that number could grow to six.
Lions wide Receiver Quintez Cephus has been suspended indefinitely and can apply for reinstatement after one year. The same is true for Detroit safety C.J. Moore.
Lions wide receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill have each been suspended for six games.
Defensive end Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders was suspended by the NFL indefinitely and can apply for reinstatement after one year.
Additionally, Indianapolis Colts corner and kick returner Isaiah Rodgers is being investigated for gambling policy infractions and has already issued an apology for his actions. No punishment has been announced yet.
The Detroit Lions also dismissed several staff members for gambling policy violations.
How can the NFL fix its issues with gambling?
The answer to this problem is education. Providing resources so everyone in the NFL understands the policy is the best way forward.
It can be difficult to get so many players on the same page, but Harbaugh perfectly summed up the correct process for anyone questioning if their actions could lead them toward violations.
“I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out, really. If you want to push it, then you’re probably doing yourself a disservice [and] putting yourself at risk, and if you have any questions, you should ask before you get into anything.”