The level of controversy surrounding the Josh Shaw sports betting fiasco is not going away–and rightfully so. After the Arizona Cardinals defensive back was suspended for placing a sports bet, the NFL released a fluff response with minimal details. Furthermore, it caused the gambling media to tear into the league for its lack of transparency.
With that being said, here are the three trends to watch moving forward.
1. Stronger communication between sports leagues and gambling entities
One of the more puzzling questions is: How was Shaw able to place the wager in the first place?
According to NFL’s Ian Rapoport, Shaw used his real name and real occupation (professional football player) when placing the bet.
Policy aside, a giant cannon should go off the minute an individual uses the occupation of “professional athlete.”
It raises the question of accountability. Are sportsbooks in the business of monitoring NFL player activity, or should the NFL be more hands-on in monitoring their players at sportsbooks?
It’s a fine line …
It’s a delicate line to navigate. Should the NFL provide casino operators with a list of all personnel for each NFL franchise?
According to the league’s gambling policy: no gambling, in any form, on any NFL game, including third parties is permitted. For 32 teams, that is a lot of third parties to track.
The NFL gambling policy says:
Gambling, particularly betting on NFL games or other sports, presents risks to the integrity of our competition and team cohesion, and can undermine the confidence and trust of our fans and colleagues in America’s greatest game.
We, therefore, owe it to our fans and everyone associated with the League to take all appropriate steps to safeguard our game against possible threats from illegal gambling as well as gambling in a legal, regulated context.
… but it shouldn’t be
Something of this magnitude should not be allowed to slip through the fingers of any governing bodies (sports leagues, sportsbooks and gaming commissions).
Here is what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had to say:
“The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league. At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of a game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL, and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.”
It’s the last sentence in Goodell’s statement that should be hammered home to anyone associated with an NFL franchise:
“If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.”
But regardless, better lines of communication must be established between all organizations.
2. Better transparency from the leagues
When the NFL discovered Shaw placed an illegal wager, it was quick to announce that no games were compromised.
What failed to be released, initially, was where Shaw placed the bet, what the bet consisted of and when he placed the bet. All bits of information discovered upon further investigation by media outlets, including ESPN’s David Purdum.
We know now, it was a three-team parlay bet and it was placed at Ceasars Sportsbook in Las Vegas.
According to ESPN, an NFL spokesman said neither the type of bet nor the games involved matter in terms of league gambling policy.
If you take what Goodell says at face value, “if you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football,” then yes, none of that information matters.
It doesn’t matter because they should not be making a bet of any kind in the first place.
However, since Shaw did manage to place a bet, it should be the NFL’s responsibility to divulge that information. It’s one thing if Shaw tried and failed to place a wager, it’s another if he was sitting in a sportsbook waiting to see if he can cash in on the outcome.
3. Redefining integrity
The NFL looked at the situation and instantly concluded its integrity remains intact; that is baffling. It also means it has a drastically different definition of the word “integrity.”
Shaw compromised integrity the minute he considered placing the wager. However, to the league, integrity is only compromised by using inside information.
The official statement said:
A league investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. Nor was there evidence suggesting any awareness by teammates, coaches or other players of his betting activity.
Therefore, to the NFL, its integrity remains intact. The league also announced it had suspended Shaw for the entire upcoming 2020 season, but Shaw is appealing his suspension.
The fallout from this situation is the exact thing that leagues were hoping would not happen. But it’s here; it happened. Now, they need to go back and take a long look for a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.