A recent uptick in gambling-related controversies in professional and amateur sports has caught the attention of Congress. Sports leagues, including the NFL and NCAA are now facing questions on how they will navigate the new betting landscape in the U.S.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) issued letters to commissioners and presidents of 12 professional leagues and the NCAA on Thursday, requesting information regarding the organizations’ gambling policies. In her letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Titus, who co-chairs the Congressional Gaming Caucus, asked about prohibitions for affiliated individuals regarding betting and the league’s education process and any ongoing investigations into “suspicious sports betting activity.”
Titus also sent letters to commissioners or presidents in the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA, ATP, Formula 1, NASCAR, UFC, WNBA and IBF.
“We wanted to get ahead of this,” Titus told ESPN. “That why we expanded it to include so many of the different sports. It seems to be one of those things that needs addressing, as we look at sports betting generally.”
Seven NFL players, at least one assistant coach and an undisclosed number of league personnel have been suspended for violations of the gambling policy, and Indianapolis Colts defensive back and kick returner Isaiah Rodgers admitted on June 5 that he had “made mistakes” regarding an ongoing investigation into his alleged betting activity.
– Isaiah Rodgers Sr. (@rodgers_isaiah) June 6, 2023
The NCAA has multiple ongoing investigations into potential betting violations from the spring. In May, University of Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon was fired after being linked to suspicious betting that caused multiple states to halt betting on games involving the Crimson Tide. At Iowa and Iowa State universities, 41 student-athletes were flagged for potential betting violations. And the UFC and MLS also have been embroiled in gambling-related controversies over the last year.
“When players get suspended and coaches get fired, that means the system is working,” Titus wrote in the letter to the NFL. “The goal, however, should be to stop these bets before they are placed.”
The American Gaming Association says the sportsbook industry uses geolocation technology, integrity monitoring and compliance programs to identify when and where betting abnormalities take place in order to alert leagues and regulators.
“All these things are what happen when you take this activity out of the shadows, shine a light on it,” Casey Clark, senior vice president for the American Gaming Association, told ESPN.
On Monday, the NFL circulated points of emphasis in its gambling policy and new additions to its mandated training for players and coaches. The NFL says it educates 17,000 league personnel on its gambling policy, and this year rookies are required to watch an additional training video from compliance, emphasizing the prohibitions on betting on NFL games and overall gambling while with the team in any capacity.
“Don’t bet on the NFL,” Jeff Miller, an NFL executive vice president, said Thursday on the NFL Network. “Don’t bet a dollar. Don’t make a prop bet. Don’t bet on the draft. Forget it, just don’t do it. And the second rule would be, don’t bet when you’re at work and that includes traveling for work.”