Multiple NFL players face discipline for gaming investment

Getty Images

The NFL has a high degree of sensitivity regarding gambling, even though gambling is responsible for a major chunk of the league’s TV ratings.  People who bet on football games typically like to watch the games on which they’ve bet, and the NFL typically likes that.  And while the league implicitly acknowledges the existence of gambling by creating the impression, via the injury-reporting rules, that there’s no inside information for gamblers to attempt to obtain (even though there is), the league draws the line when it comes to owner, coach, executive, and/or player involvement in gambling.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that at least 25 NFL players could be required to give up their interests in an Alabama bingo and entertainment operation that was shut down in 2010, and that could re-open later this year.  The project, located 10 miles south of Dothan, Alabama, is known as Center Stage.  It previously went by the name Country Crossing, before authorities forced it to close when “electronic bingo” operations in Alabama were required to stop using slot-machine lookalikes.

“If it were to be determined that an NFL employee had made an investment in violation of league policy on gambling-related activities, that individual would be directed to withdraw the investment and it would be reviewed for potential discipline,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Cole.

The players involved, per Cole, include Terrell Owens, Santana Moss, Santonio Holmes, Gerard Warren, and Adalius Thomas.  The NFL players invested roughly $20 million into the project.  If forced to sell before the facility reopens, the players possibly could lose a lot of their money.  And, in theory, they could separately be disciplined by the league.

Though we realize that the NFL has certain rules about which players knew or should know, here’s hoping that the league will be as cooperative and understanding with the players involved as the league was with the Rooney family, which deliberately acquired gambling interests that exceeded the league’s limited exceptions (primarily applicable to horse-racing and dog-racing operations).  The league gave the Rooneys more-than-ample time to reconfigure the ownership of the Steelers, opting not to insist on an abrupt and immediate divestiture and demonstrating the kind of patience that other franchises possible would not have enjoyed.

We’re not requesting special treatment for the players.  We’re hoping that the league will keep in mind the special treatment the Rooneys received before forcing the players to abandon their investments and/or imposing discipline.

26 responses to “Multiple NFL players face discipline for gaming investment

  1. I agree completely. A rule banning players from endorsing bingo? Really?

    If the players are forced to lose that collective 20 million, it’s not to say that they’ll be scrambling for money since obviously they are fairly wealthy – but it is certainly something that has the potential to ruin lives down the road considering these were INVESTMENTS.

  2. Not wanting to be involved in “games of chance”, the Rooney’s fixed things so tightly there was no element of chance at all.

  3. how does that work? the players are not a union and there are still no rules in place governing the players correct? so does that mean the players can do what they want without repercussions? I dont get it. so what of they invested in a gambling establishment. Its the NFL being hypocritical or what? i guess the nflpa a sham if i ever heard of one, cant come to their defense either correct? if i was the judge i would be squashing both sides for wasting my time.

  4. God I am so sick of this “criminal element” mindset surrounding archaic “vice” laws.

    Yes. Gambling and prostitution and drugs are usually funded by criminals….because they are ILLEGAL.,

    If you stop basing laws on what churches want you’d probably find things work a lot smoother and everyone is a lot happier.

  5. If there’s any actions taken against the players it will be very minimal. The difference between class II and class III gaming establishments are huge. This is not the same type of gaming as horse racing or las vegas style slot machines.

  6. Man – that’s harsh… but we can’t have the NFL supporting gambling

    (aside from forcing coaches to divulge injury reports to ensure that the mafia and other interests don’t lose money on an inaccurate Las Vegas Line, that is.)

  7. Actually the problem is the NFL doesn’t get a cut.

    TEAMS are allowed to use their logo on State lottery scratch off games. I’m sure they get a cut of that.

  8. The Rooney’s didn’t get special treatment. They were ordered to break up a TWENTY YEAR ownership group because they owned the same dog track and horse tracks for DECADES but Goodell once again stuck his beak where it didn’t belong.

  9. Yes, Dan Rooney’s brothers added slot machines to their tracks, which put them over the NFL’s gambling limits. But although they held minority shares in the Steelers, the brothers had no involvement with the team–and Dan Rooney wasn’t involved in the tracks or slots. Given the fact that there was no overlap between the gambling enterprises and the Steelers, the league allowed Dan sufficient time to arrange a buyout of his brothers.

    It is a little more complicated to arrange an ownership restructure of an enterprise worth around $200 million dollars than it is for five football players to divest themselves of interests worth about $4 million a piece. However, I would expect the league to allow them enough time to make sound business decisions.

  10. The players should re-brand the gaming facility now so that the organization was technically started during the lockout….perhaps they could get a grandfather clause.

    I really don’t think it’s fair to tell players they can’t run a bingo facility……perhaps they could have the machines pay tokens instead of money and allow the tokens to be exchanged for something of value (pre-paid mastercards?)…..we’ll get the players around this BS rule if we think outside the box.

  11. First of all, this is not a Bingo hall where Gray Haired old ladies, black out numbers on a paper card! It is a full fledged eletronic gambling hall.

    If you get three B-21’s in a row you win the jackpot!

  12. tumsman2 says: Jun 16, 2011 10:33 PM
    right now its bingo. soon they will add slot machines. then card tables. then sports gambling.

    at which point do you stop them?


    At the point where what they are doing damages non-consenting adults?

    In fact, that’s pretty much where the line should be in every issue.

  13. how different than NHL commissioner gary bettman who holds his awards ceremonies in vegas and has his hockey players play in the world series of poker. one of nhl’s main sponsors was shut down recently by homeland security. rick tocchet then an assistant coach was charged with taking betts from players for a bookmaker – in the year he was in limbo toccet appeared on the world series of poker – commissioner of which is gary bettman’s halfbrother – jeffrey pollock. then toccehet pled guilty and not long after bettman allowed him to become the head coach of the tampa bay lightning.

  14. Yes, Dan Rooney’s brothers added slot machines to their tracks, which put them over the NFL’s gambling limits. But although they held minority shares in the Steelers, the brothers had no involvement with the team–and Dan Rooney wasn’t involved in the tracks or slots. Given the fact that there was no overlap between the gambling enterprises and the Steelers, the league allowed Dan sufficient time to arrange a buyout of his brothers


    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that four brothers (Art Jr., Pat, Tim and John) own or at least owned 16% share, and Dan split his 16% with Art II. Also it’s my understanding that all five brothers own shares of the racetracks. The management may not overlap, but the ownership certainly does.

  15. @melonnhead …

    Past-tense since the restructuring, but that’s correct (though I didn’t know Dan and Art II were splitting Dan’s shares). The brothers owned equal shares in these enterprises but Dan ran the football side, and the brothers ran the gambling interests. The problem occurred when the brothers added slots to the racetracks.

    The league gave Dan time to restructure so he’d no longer have a share in the gambling operations and the brothers would no longer be part-owners of the Steelers. But he reportedly had the full support of the other owners who didn’t want him to lose the team–and didn’t want to lose Dan from their ranks.

  16. The reason why the NFL makes coaches report injuries – which can actually put players at risk – is to ensure the Las Vegas odds makers know how to set the latest line.

  17. The legalization of slot machines at dog tracks almost always ties dog racing to the slot machines, requiring by law that dogs continue to race as a platform for expanded gambling. This marriage of two unrelated forms of gambling allows dog track promoters use slot machines to save commercial dog racing.

    The recent financial woes at tracks across the U.S. is proof that without the life support of other forms of gambling, greyhound racing is a dying industry. Since 2001, twenty-five tracks have either closed or ended live racing.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!