NFL Updates Gambling Policy, Reinstates Three Previously Suspended Players

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On Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to adjusted rules about players and gambling. That has the immediate effect of reinstating three previously suspended players: wide receiver Jameson Williams of the Detroit Lions, offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere of the Tennessee Titans, and free agent wide receiver Staney Berryhill. At the time of the suspension Berryhill was also with the Lions, but he was released shortly after the penalty was passed down.

Following the conclusion of Week 4 games the players will be reinstated, shortening what had been a six-week suspension for gambling on non-NFL sports, down to four.

The changes to the policy will increase penalties for betting on NFL games, including the possibility of a lifetime ban. But it softens the penalties for players who bet on other sports, and did it while at an NFL facility or team or league event. That is what Williams, Petit-Frere, and Berryhill were initially suspended for, thus the reduction in their suspensions.

When NFL Players Bet on the NFL

With the league having fully embraced betting, the need to make sure that it remains above board is paramount, which is why there is an increase in the penalties for NFL players betting on NFL games.

Any NFL related bet by a player will result in a minimum one-year ban, and then the player may apply for reinstatement. If that player bets on his own team, the minimum ban is increased to two years. If there is an actual attempt to fix a game or result, it will be a permanent ban. If a player passes along inside information that is then used to bet on that player’s team, there will be a one-year ban, and possibly longer, subject to the commissioner’s discretion at the time of the reinstatement application.

“The NFL and NFL Players Association share a longstanding and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of the game,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement. “The NFL periodically reviews the gambling policy in consultation with the NFLPA and clubs to ensure it is responsive to changing circumstances and fully addresses this commitment.

When Players Bet on Non-NFL Games and Events

It is still against the policy for players to bet on other sports games when they are at a team or league facility or event. But the penalty for doing so has now been significantly reduced.

First-time offenders will receive a two-game suspension without pay. If that player is caught doing it a second time, the suspension will be for six games, and also without pay. A third offense will result in a year suspension.

The NFL will allow for the commissioner to adjudicate the penalties for both types of violations with some latitude, based on a player’s history, access to confidential information, or the ability to alter the outcome of a game. Players will also benefit from self-reporting and cooperating fully with league investigators.

This past off-season, a total of 10 players were suspended by the NFL for violating its gambling policy, seven of whom were suspended a full year for betting on NFL games. Those suspensions are still in place.
On April 21, the NFL suspended Williams and Berryhill for six games, and in June, Petit-Frere was given his six-game suspension. Only these three of the 10 suspended players are affected by the policy change.

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