Korn Ferry Tour golfer Jake Staiano received a three-month suspension on Friday for violating the PGA Tour betting policy.
The player on the PGA Tour’s feeder circuit was suspended for making four wagers totaling $116.20.
“I understand the principle,” said Staino, who considered appealing but ultimately decided against it. “I understand you can’t bet on golf. They lay it out perfectly. You take this integrity program. So I didn’t deny gambling.”
Staiano’s PGA Tour betting wagers
Staiano said he made a $25 prop bet on Bryson DeChambeau to make a Par-5 birdie at a PGA Tour event in 2021. He also made three other wagers on The Match between DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka in November 2021.
Staiano was hoping he would only get in trouble for the one PGA Tour bet, given that The Match was considered an exhibition.
“No excuses. I don’t have an excuse for it,” said Staiano, who added he’d taken the PGA Tour gambling integrity course two or three times already.
Still, he noted repeatedly there was no malicious intent. “I had no inside info,” he said.
Timeline of Korn Ferry suspension
Staiano said he was initially contacted by a PGA Tour official in May via text, and told he was involved in a potential integrity violation. A month later, he received a call from someone in the Colorado Division of Gaming, asking him to confirm whether he placed those bets. Staiano said yes.
Staiano then received an email from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan informing him of his suspension, which runs Sept. 11-Dec. 11. The ban cost him a shot at participating in Q-School, the tour’s annual opportunity for minor-leaguers to move up.
“They hired a third-party investigator to basically do background checks on everybody affiliated with the PGA Tour. And anybody betting on golf was going to get flagged,” Staiano said.
The PGA Tour has a partnership with integrity monitor US Integrity through 2024.
No PGA Tour betting ban appeal
Staiano considered trying to appeal but learned that if he lost, he would have to pay each member of an independent three-person arbitration panel. In his mind, it ultimately was not worth it.
“I don’t want others to make the same mistake,” he said. “It may be career-altering. I don’t want that to happen to other people. It sucks. It’s a tough situation. It’s something I have to live with.”
Fellow KTP Tour golfer Vince India was banned six months for unspecified PGA Tour betting violations.
“The press release made it look like we were evil guys,” Staiano said. “That part was frustrating.”
Call for more transparency on bans
Sports law professor Jodi Balsam lamented on the lack of transparency in the suspensions to Golf Today Monday.
“What concerns me most about what the tour has done here is not that they penalized the golfers, but that they haven’t told us exactly why,” she said.
“And I think that’s in-part because sports governing bodies and leagues are inherently conflicted when confronted with integrity threats. They may want to cover them up or downplay incidents of corruption or cheating or unauthorized gambling for fear that any transparency might alienate fans. And they also may want to avoid interference by law enforcement that may breed an episode of corruption as a reason to institute some broader investigation.
“So while I think the PGA Tour is on the right track here in penalizing gambling by its players on its events, it could do more to be transparent on it.”