NFL Sports Betting Policy Includes Loophole for Former Coaches, Team Personnel

Posted on: June 20, 2023, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2023, 11:03h.

The NFL gambling policy that limits the ability of league officials and staffers, players, coaches, and team personnel to gamble on sports has made many headlines of late for numerous players violating the guidelines.

NFL Gambling Policy sports betting
The Circa Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas is pictured on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. The NFL’s sports betting policy provides no safeguards to limit a former coach from betting on NFL games. (Image: AP)

The NFL is seeking to better educate the approximately 17K people who fall under the scope of its gambling policy. The policy allows such individuals to gamble on sports other than the NFL when not at work. The document prohibits them from betting on NFL games.

The league recently contracted Tom Brady to appear in a PSA that teams will be required to show to their players and staff that discusses the dangers of participating in sports betting and the potential perils of violating the gambling policy.

US Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada), who cochairs the Congressional Gaming Caucus, has also requested that the NFL share specifics of how it’s educating players and league personnel about its sports betting rules.

Mike Florio, one of the most popular and respected NFL reporters, founder of PFT (ProFootballTalk), and a contributor for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, this week raised another concern regarding the league’s gambling protocols. Writing for PFT, Florio said nothing in the gambling policy prevents a former coach or team staffer from betting on NFL games while not employed by one of the league’s 32 franchises.

Coaching Loophole

There are just 79 days until the kickoff of the 2023-24 NFL season. And yet there remains some confusion about the NFL’s sports betting mandates.

Florio pointed out that the NFL can continue to prohibit players not signed to a team, aka free agents, from betting on NFL games, because players are unionized through the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). The NFLPA’s collective bargaining agreement pledges that its members will abide by all NFL rules, which include provisions on individual conduct.

Since coaches, managers, and team personnel such as trainers and equipment managers aren’t typically part of a union, the NFL gambling policy presumably doesn’t apply to them while they’re unemployed. Florio presented an eyebrow-raising example of how this could threaten the integrity of the league and its games.

Florio discussed the Miami Dolphins firing coach Brian Flores in 2019. Flores later raised allegations that the team’s owner, billionaire Stephen Ross, had asked him to tank midseason for the team to improve its NFL draft position.

“What if the coach resists and the owner makes it clear he’ll find an interim coach who will do what the owner wants? The fired head coach could then bet against his former team each and every week without violating the NFL’s gambling policy, as long as he doesn’t take another job with the NFL or one of its teams,” Florio explained.

Benefit Too Great

Florio believes the NFL, if it truly wants to protect the league from sports betting influence, should have “completely and totally” shunned all involvement with gambling and sports betting. That includes profiting from allowing casinos and sportsbooks to sponsor and partner with teams, and from advertising during the league’s television broadcasts.

“The NFL takes gambling seriously. But not seriously enough. How can it? With so much money being made from sportsbooks, and with owners actually owning pieces of sportsbook companies, the inherent hypocrisy necessarily takes some steam out of the process for the proper creation, education, and enforcement of the rules,” Florio continued.