The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has launched a new program to teach former players about the dangers of gambling addiction.
An NFLPA foundation has partnered with GVC Foundation US and EPIC Risk Management to run the program. It will focus on responsible gambling and sports integrity, with sessions run by former athletes.
Current NFL athletes of course are prohibited from betting on the NFL. That issue came to the fore last year when Arizona Cardinals player Josh Shaw received a suspension for placing bets in Las Vegas.
First of its kind
“This is the first program that the NFLPA has ever run on problem gambling education and awareness,” said Andre Collins, executive director of the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation.
“As the first major professional sports league in the US to undertake this project, we’re proud to tackle this issue head-on.”
Collins urged other sports leagues to follow the NFLPA’s lead.
What will the responsible gambling sessions look like?
Responsible gambling consultancy EPIC Risk Management and GVC’s non-profit Foundation US will create the content. And the NFLPA will advertise it to players and coordinate the delivery.
Former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer will be one of those helping to deliver sessions.
“Professional athletes are highly susceptible to problematic gambling behavior,” Toomer said. “Educating these former players on how to gamble responsibly and act with integrity is a crucial step forward for all sports.”
Some academic research has linked pro athletes’ competitiveness with compulsive gambling.
Moreover, the sessions will also serve a research purpose, with data and feedback collected by a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.
“Problem gambling is often described as a hidden addiction,” said Paul Buck, CEO of EPIC Risk Management.
“The signs are difficult to spot, yet the effects can be devastating. We plan to educate former NFL players through motivational talks provided by former professional athletes who’ve experienced the consequences of problem gambling, first-hand.”
Such programs are growing in importance as regulated US sports betting expands. Similar initiatives are common in more mature betting markets. For instance, EPIC Risk Management provides gambling education for all 72 teams in the English Football League.