NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Speaks on Betting Before Super Bowl

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual pre-Super Bowl interview on Monday in Las Vegas — this time invitation-only — and he was naturally asked about the NFL and gambling. It’s an obvious topic with the league’s showcase week taking place at or near the large collection of Nevada brick and mortar sportsbooks.

“[The integrity of the game] is our No. 1 objective: Gambling and outside of gambling, the integrity of our game is critical,” said Goodell. “And so we spend a lot of time focusing on that: educating, making sure that all of our personnel are aware of our gambling policies in this case, or any other policy that can affect the integrity of our game.”

“Ultimately, that’s our primary job.”

As legal betting has grown across the country, and the NFL and its teams have grown more comfortable with partnerships with online sportsbooks, the league has worked to update and clarify its policies on gambling. And those policies and restrictions cover all players in the league, as well as anyone who draws a paycheck from the NFL.

Goodell told reports that he believes 25 league employees have violated the league’s gambling policy and were disciplined. He added that roughly 13 players have faced discipline for violating the league’s gambling rules.

Walking the Gambling Tightrope this Week

The Super Bowl isn’t just a spectacle for the two teams involved and the tens of thousands of fans who attend the game and the week’s festivities. It’s a huge money-making opportunity for the rest of the league’s players – in some cases, as much as six figures.

Through paid appearances or working as pitchmen for products, dozens of current NFL players are busy during Super Bowl week. This week, that means working in a city that was at one time shunned by the NFL. In fact, at one point in league history, it was a violation to even enter a casino. Twenty years ago, the NFL refused to air any casino-related ads during the Super Bowl.

Those rules and attitudes have changed. But the word is out to mind your betting P’s and Q’s if you are currently an NFL player or other NFL employee.

Wynn Las Vegas has casino studios that will host dozens of podcasts and the many players that will be guests this week on those podcasts. And while players are now allowed to go into casinos, they are strictly forbidden from promoting anything related to the casino or sportsbook. 

The splitting of hairs is easy to see with Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams. He is paid to endorse MGM, but not the MGM casino, sportsbook, or online sportsbook BetMGM.

Just nine years ago, then-Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was forbidden to host a fantasy sports convention in Las Vegas because it took place next door to a casino. Now, Romo is part of the broadcast crew of a Super Bowl taking place in a stadium with VIP entrances sponsored by MGM and Caesars.

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