NFLPA exec: Sports betting has “serious consequences” for players

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As a growing number of the various states move toward adopting legalized gambling, the sports leagues have concerns. The players associations do, too.

There are serious consequences, particularly for the athletes,” NFL Players Association V.P. for business and legal affairs Casey Schwab told David Purdum of “Because of those consequences, the athlete’s voice must be heard, particularly as we contemplate sports betting in the country.”

The athlete’s voice can be heard, but the entities setting up the wagering programs don’t necessarily have to listen. For years, don’t-call-it-gambling-gambling on fantasy football has existed, with individual player performance residing at the heart of the process. And the athlete’s voice hasn’t been heard.

The money associated with full-blown gambling could be big enough to force a change, especially if some of that money gets peeled off not for point-shaving or match-fixing but for information.

Who’s really hurt? Who isn’t hurt? Which player(s) does the game plan feature? With which team will a given player sign a contract? Even if players aren’t being directly paid for that kind of information, people close to them will have an incentive to listen closely, and potentially to profit from what they hear.

“That information — what our athletes are doing, where they’re going — has a price tag on it,” Schwab said. “And as more money goes into sports betting, that price tag goes up.”

He’s right, and either the players or someone close to them will realize that, and react accordingly. While those transactions won’t directly affect the integrity of the games, they will affect the integrity of the bets, because whoever pays for the information will have an edge at the window.

Of course, those concerns apply not only to players but also to coaches, executives, owners, equipment managers, trainers, and anyone who has access to any information that could be co-opted to help make a given bet more likely to win. Although those same dynamics have been part of sport for as long as illegal betting has occurred (i.e., for as long as sport has existed), it won’t be easy to legitimize the betting without legitimizing all’s-fair efforts to beat the house.

The house won’t care much because, even with some bettors having inside information, the house will still win. But everyone should worry that whispers and tips that initially seem innocuous could grow into relationships that eventually spark the type of scandals that make (more) people think it’s all fixed.

30 responses to “NFLPA exec: Sports betting has “serious consequences” for players

  1. That’s absurd.
    Gambling on football has been legal in Vegas for how long? And you already mentioned fantasy football.

    Reading between the lines it looks a lot like they’re saying “I want my piece of the pie too.”

  2. NFLPA legal counsel Dijon L. Gantt had some very interesting comments on sports gambling on the Dan
    Patrick Show last week, namely in regards to the possibility of throwing games. Some interesting stuff.

  3. With the potential of a billion or so bet weekly, coupled with the character standards of some NFL players, I anticipate a serious scandal within the next year or two.

  4. Betting and gambling mixed with pro sports shouldnt be even a concern. Ifs never been an issue before. Whats that? Pete who? Charlie Hustle?


  5. Gambling has been around for years on pro football, the difference is now, it will be local. A person can see his local player, in a walking boot on Thursday and make a bet, based on that, whereas in the past,he would have to have a bookie or a friend in Vegas. Or the average local person can ask a player a “innocent” question and make a bet on the answer. Players just have to watch out, who they talk to…which is no different, from the past.

  6. I am sure social media will help with this issue. I mean don’t it help with every other issue we face.

  7. Years ago, an all-pro’s dad (my neighbor) told me his son was retiring a couple months before he announced it, before the team even knew. Think of the money I could have made betting on his retirement. Dang, missed my chance. 🙁

  8. willycents says:
    July 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm
    Years ago, an all-pro’s dad (my neighbor) told me his son was retiring a couple months before he announced it, before the team even knew. Think of the money I could have made betting on his retirement. Dang, missed my chance.

    And think of all the money you would have lost if your neighbor was someone in Brett Favre’s family.

  9. They are only saying that because they want to get money somehow out of it. Good luck with that. *yawn*

  10. Looks as though the day will come when the price of broadcast rights will be indexed to gambling revenues.

  11. There are already lots of people getting paid to divulge inside information. They are called reporters.

  12. I don’t care if it’s fixed or not so long as “the fix” works in my favor more than it works against it. Mathematically it’s a wash to innocent bettors.

  13. Michael E says:
    July 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm
    I never have and never will care about the opinion of any union.
    Kim Jong-un would be happy to have you.

  14. NFL should put in place a lifetime ban for supplying information. People who think someone would be offered 20k+ are mistaken. The gambler would have to get so much money down to cover his expenses and the vig that books would know something was up and limit their liability in return. The bettors EROI wouldnt increase enough to make the situation worthwhile.

  15. I laugh at all this talk from the Players Association about the effect of gambling on the players. I stopped trusting the players a long time ago about anything, just as I stopped trusting the NFL front office, and the owners, too.
    The NFL is about one thing and one thing only — money. Anyone who thinks there is anything that the NFL or the owners or the players do that isn’t about money is kidding themselves.
    I have news for you — if a player can tell someone he knows that a certain player is not nearly 100% for an upcoming game and that someone can make a buck off it, the player will do it. If you don’t think so, you must believe in the tooth fairy.
    Way back a long time ago, a pro baseball player (whose name escapes me at the moment) was asked about cheating in baseball (in reference to throwing illegal pitches such as the spit ball, or scuffing the ball, or loading the bat with cork, or stealing the other teams’ signs) and he answered as honestly as he could. He said, “hey — it aint cheating if you don’t get caught”. That’s the most truth I have ever heard from a professional athlete. And it’s exactly what they believe.
    NFL players are in a business which rewards one thing — winning. We’ve seen point shaving scandals in college basketball, we’ve seen NBA officials caught taking money for making calls that aren’t there, we’ve seen tons of athletes in all sports caught cheating with PED’s, we’ve seen baseball players banned for life for throwing a world series, we’ve seen boxers get caught putting lead in their gloves and take dives for money, we’ve seen Olympic athletes caught juicing and we’ve seen the greatest cyclist ever finally admit that he was juicing the whole time he was winning the Tour De France all those years.
    So — I ask you — is anyone out there naive enough to think that players in the NFL aren’t going to take the opportunity to make someone they know a lot of dough, or make the policing all of this, as if they don’t have enough to watch already.
    The one guy who must be laughing about all this is Pete Rose. He probably wishes he were playing in the NFL right now so he could really have an influence on the bets he lays down.

  16. Shouldn’t this whole article and all its comments be geared to college players having a voice. I wouldn’t expect a guy making seven figures to be influenced by a five figure payout. But a guy making zero figures…

    Another commenter said: People who think someone would be offered 20k+ are mistaken. The gambler would have to get so much money down to cover his expenses and the vig that books would know something was up and limit their liability in return.

    If gambling is legalized and run in a way that makes it super easy access, either by the state or privately, with kiosks in 7-11’s, or sales everywhere like Lotto, then getting down way over 20k would be no problem at all. If you think there won’t be local guys making three digit and four digit bets (even bookies laying money off) you just don’t know how much people bet. 20k or even 50 on one side of a game is not that much if you have thousands and thousands of bettors.

  17. I live in California where gambling is “illegal”, yet I can drive 20 minutes and bet on horses, drive 15 minutes to a poker room, drive an hour in 3 different directions and end up at an Indian casino, I can bet on DraftKings, play fantasy football to win money on major corporate websites like CBS, bet on sports online, or just hit up Vegas to bet on anything I want. Quit with the gambling will cause major problems. It’s already legal

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