As NFL cracks down on players gambling, what events are pro athletes allowed to bet on?

By Kyle Hightower

The Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Murphy vs. NCAA ushered in a new era of legalized sports betting in the U.S., allowing states to establish their own sports wagering laws.

Despite opposition from the major sports leagues, the high court overturned a federal law – the 1992 Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act – that had barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

With the ruling came a new approach to how the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL associate with the industry.

Each league prohibits its employees and players from betting on their own games. But there are variations.

Here’s a look at how the leagues operate:


Yes, but with caveats.

In the preamble of its 2018 gambling policy the NFL states, “Gambling, particularly on NFL games or other sports, presents potential risks to the integrity of our competition and can negatively impact team cohesion.”

But that same policy goes on to outline that, “All NFL Personnel other than Players are further prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating bets on any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, USTA, MLS), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), international (e.g., World Baseball Classic, World Cup), or Olympic sports competition, tournament or event.”

NFL players and personnel are not allowed to engage in gambling in NFL facilities, disclose any nonpublic NFL information, enter a sportsbook during the NFL season, or maintain any social, business or personal relationships with sports gamblers.

But they can place non-sports wagers at legally operated casinos and horse or dog racing tracks on their personal time, including during the season.

The NBA constitution doesn’t expressly forbid players from betting on other sports.

According to Major League Baseball’s 2019 policy on sports betting, “Baseball personnel may place legal bets on sports other than baseball or softball in jurisdictions in which sports betting is legal, provided that the person placing the bet is eligible under applicable law to place the wager.”

The NHL only prohibits players from gambling on league games.


A person also could face penalties for failing to report any attempted gambling rule violations, including attempts by anyone who tries to solicit them to manipulate or fix a game.

The NBA’s constitution and bylaws give broad authority to the league commissioner to punish any player who “directly or indirectly, wagers money or anything of value on the outcome of any game played by a team in the league operated by the Association.” After the accused has had a chance to answer the charges, “the decision of the Commissioner shall be final, binding and conclusive and unappealable.”

The penalties could include a fine, suspension, expulsion and/or perpetual disqualification from further association with the NBA.

In its most recent collective bargaining agreement, the NHL only mentions gambling once, saying, “Gambling on any NHL Game is prohibited.” That same document also empowers the commissioner to discipline players for off-ice conduct. Potential penalties for those violations include fines, suspension, expulsion or cancellation of the player’s contract.

The NFL outlines in its gambling policy that the commissioner or his designee will decide violations of policy “on a case-by-case basis.” Violations deemed detrimental to the league could also subject the involved team or person to penalties including fines, termination of employment or banishment from the NFL for life.


Yes, and the list is growing.

On Thursday the NFL suspended Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry of the Indianapolis Colts, and free agent Demetrius Taylor through at least the conclusion of the 2023 season for betting on NFL games in the 2022 season.

The Titans’ Nicholas Petit-Frere was suspended for the team’s first six regular season games of the 2023 season for betting on non-NFL sports at the club facility.

It comes after Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus, Lions safety C.J. Moore and Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney were also sidelined for the entire 2023 season for placing bets on NFL games. Lions wide receivers Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams each received six-game suspensions for wagering on non-NFL games, but in NFL-operated facilities.

In December, New York Jets receivers coach Miles Austin was suspended for a year for betting on non-NFL sports.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season for gambling on NFL games; he was later traded from Atlanta to Jacksonville and was reinstated. In November 2019, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended for gambling on an NFL game; he has not played in the league since.


Each of the four major North America sports leagues has partnerships with technology companies and sportsbooks which allow them to use official league data in their betting products as well as use the leagues’ various logos and branding in advertisements.

NHL and MLB players are also now allowed to enter ambassador roles with gambling companies, with restrictions limiting agreements to the players engaging in promotional or marketing appearances for the brands.

Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid became the first player to sign such a pact in 2022 and appeared in an advertisement for BetGM alongside hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies signed a similar deal with MaximBet last year, but the company has since gone defunct.

The NBA Players Association allows players’ images and likenesses to appear in sportsbook advertising.

NFL personnel are prohibited from using or allowing others to use their name or image directly “to promote, advertise, or publicize gambling-related enterprises” or “making personal, promotional appearances on behalf of any entity in a casino gaming area or sportsbook.”


In an open letter on Oct. 27, 2021, NFL Players Association President JC Tretter defined the revenues players are entitled to under the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, saying they included all television deals, ticket sales, concessions, league sponsorships, local media deals and “yes, even gambling revenues are included as part of our share of revenue.” Under CBA terms, players receive a minimum of 48% of all league revenue.

The NBA Players Association’s new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA that was signed this week and will run through 2030 keeps intact a 50-50 split in revenue. But that still excludes revenues from gambling on NBA games or any aspect of NBA games generated by casinos or gambling businesses.

The new CBA also now gives players the ability to invest in and promote gambling companies. Though, there are some stipulations.

First, any ownership interest by a player in any such gaming company must not include a “management, governance, voting, or executive role.” If the entity “offers, accepts or facilitates NBA-league related bets or contests, or other transactions,” those investments are also limited to 1%. For those that don’t, the investments must be less than 50%.

Players also are obligated to disclose any such gaming company investments within 30 days of acquiring them.

Promotional or endorsement deals involving players are also now allowed, but must be general, limited to only non-NBA league sports and “not determined in any respect by NBA league wagering or outcomes.”

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