But for the grace of Jimmy the Greek goes the NFL.
The NHL will provide another cautionary tale for the NFL, which has avoided gambling scandals for decades. Via ESPN.com, the NHL will Investigate an allegation made by the wife of Sharks forward Evander Kane that he bet on his team’s games and that he has intentionally tried to lose, in order to win.
The scandal began with social media posts from Anna Kane, who asked: “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this.” She also said, “Can someone ask [Commissioner] Gary Bettman how they let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?”
“The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously,” the NHL said, via ESPN.com. Added the Sharks, in an email to the Associated Press: “The San Jose Sharks have been in contact today with the National Hockey League about the serious allegations made against Evander Kane. We support a full and transparent investigation into the situation to maintain the integrity of the game and consistency with our team values.'”
Kane has a history of gambling. Per ESPN.com, a Las Vegas casino sued Kane in 2019, alleging he failed to repay a $500,000 gambling debt that he incurred during a playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The ongoing spread of legalized gambling increases the pressure on all sports to ensure that its players don’t rack up big debts and, in turn, strike deals with gamblers that could entail efforts to control the outcome of a game. Although it’s seemingly difficult for one player in a hockey game to make much of a different, the NHL needs to take this very seriously.
And the NFL needs to be paying very close attention, like it did during the Tim Donaghy scandal, which rocked the NBA. The NFL has been lucky to not have its own betting scandal. Unless the NFL remains vigilant and diligent, it’s inevitable.