Twenty-five club or league employees have been terminated for violating the NFL betting policy, commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday.
Goodell was addressing reporters at his annual Super Bowl news conference in Las Vegas. He added that “roughly” 13 players have been involved in some type of discipline for NFL betting policy violations.
“If (employees) were betting on the NFL, you’re terminated automatically. That’s it,” Goodell said.
Jags employee most notable firing for NFL betting
The most well-known employee to lose his job was Amit Patel.
A former midlevel finance manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Patel allegedly stole $22 million from the team, largely to fund his gambling habit.
He faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud charges.
Detroit Lions also axed staff members
The Detroit Lions also fired several staff members for violating the league’s gambling policy in March 2023, ESPN reported.
Last summer, 10 players received various suspensions for violating the NFL betting policy. Seven received a season-long ban.
The New York Times reported that two former NFL employees who were “fired within the last two years for violating the policy said in interviews that they had not been offered the opportunity to go through rehabilitation and return to their jobs, as often happens for league employees struggling with issues like substance abuse.”
Goodell: ‘We understand the risk’
The NFL previously adopted a more anti-gambling stance in the PASPA era before 2018. It now has a trio of “tri-exclusive” sportsbook partnerships totaling $1 billion combined over the next five years.
However, the league insists that partnership dollars are not the main reason it now embraces gambling.
“We understand the risk. We did not make the decision,” said Goodell, who sounded much more anti-gambling in 2012. “Ultimately, it was a decision by the Supreme Court. They legalized sports betting. We have to adapt. Embrace it. We have been cautious. We have been very thoughtful, I think, in our approach. But we knew the risk. And protecting the integrity is No. 1.”
NFL betting education and awareness
The NFL has increased player gambling education and awareness programs.
It has also amended its disciplinary policies regarding the issue following high-profile problems.
“We clarified our policy earlier this year, and it was to put the importance for our players that betting on NFL games, or inside information, or anything that would negatively impact the integrity of our game is absolutely off limits,” Goodell said.
Navigating a potentially slippery slope
The league will continue to deal navigate the slippery slope of gambling harm in the legal sports betting era.
“I think the harm is potentially to two things, (No. 1) the game itself. We talked before about the integrity of the game. We want to make sure it doesn’t harm the game. That people, when they’re watching an NFL game, they know the action on the field is genuine and without any outside influence,” Goodell said.
“I think the other one is the work that Anna (Isaacson) spends an awful lot of time on, which is responsible gambling. We are the only league to do our own spots on responsible gambling to make sure that our fans understand the dangers of irresponsible gambling.”