Ottawa Senators Player Hit With First NHL Betting Ban In Legal Era

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NHL betting

Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto received a 41-game suspension for violating the NHL betting policy, the league confirmed Thursday.

It is the first sports-betting related suspension during the online era in league history. 

LSR has reached out to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly for comment. 

League policy says no NHL betting

The league said it found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games. The league’s betting policy prohibits wagering on NHL games.

However, players are allowed to wager on non-NHL games. 

“The NHL considers this matters closed, absent the emergence of new information, and will have no further comment,” the league said.

What actually happened then?

The Ottawa Sun reported: “Pinto’s online gambling account in the United States was flagged by a company that is a partner of the league because of unusual activity and it contacted the NHL’s head office recently.”

No additional details were provided.

Changing times for NHL and betting

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman headlined a G2E panel in 2019 and like many other sports league commissioners, he changed from a previous stance on sports betting.

“Times have changed. The concerns we had at 10,000 feet had nothing to do with the integrity of the game. It had to do with atmospherics and the like, and the practical element as to how this was all going to work,” Bettman said that year.

“Once the Supreme Court ruled, we got to get with the program. And frankly, as a practical matter, I owed it to our fans, I owed it to our clubs, to embrace the evolving world, whether it’s sports betting or changes in technology. In this day and age, you either evolve or become extinct.”

Stars serve as NHL betting pitchmen

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (BetMGM), along with Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Auston Matthews (Bet99) and John Tavares (PROLINE), all serve as gambling pitchmen

In 2021, the Senators signed a seven-figure sponsorship deal with Bet99, Sports Business Journal reported, which allowed the sports betting operator to feature its logo on their helmets. 

In 2021, the NHL signed a 10-year deal with Sportradar to serve as its official data rights and integrity partner. 

Suspended player a young riser

Pinto is currently a restricted free agent, having yet to play with Ottawa this season. The Ottawa Sun is reporting that Pinto will sign a one-year qualifying offer so as to then serve his ban. 

Last year, the 22-year-old scored 20 goals. He apologized in a statement:

“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family. I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

The NHL becomes the first North American sports league to announce a betting suspension following the NFL suspending 10 players this year for gambling policy violations.