NFL betting is legal or a gray area in most states, allowing football fans to wager throughout much of America. But can NFL players bet on games?
This question used to be a simple “no,” but it has become more muddled with the expansion of sports gambling. A wealth of land-based and online sportsbooks makes it seem like anybody can bet—even pro players.
This blog post discusses NFL gambling policy and rules regarding league players betting on games and if they can wager on other sports.
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NFL Players Betting on Games: League Policy & Famous Cases
The answer is still no on whether players can wager on NFL games. League policy prohibits players and all personnel from betting on anything related to an NFL contest.
This rule covers game outcomes, scores, statistics, futures, and prop bets.
NFL Player Suspended For Gambling: Calvin Ridley
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley represents the most famous case of a player who violated the league gambling policy.
Ridley stepped away from football for most of 2021 due to mental health reasons.
While away from the game, he placed three NFL parlay bets totaling $1,500 on the Hard Rock sports betting app. He included his team in these parlays, picking the Falcons to win each time.
On March 7, 2022, the NFL announced that Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season. He also forfeited his $11.1 million base salary for violating the rule of NFL players betting on games.
NFL Player Caught Gambling: Josh Shaw
Former NFL cornerback Josh Shaw is another player suspended for gambling on football games.
Shaw signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 and hurt his shoulder later that year.
While on injured reserve, Shaw placed a parlay bet in Las Vegas, including the Cardinals losing.
On November 29, 2019, the NFL suspended the cornerback for wagering on games. Shaw’s suspension lasted for 21 games total, and he got reinstated.
He currently plays for the Birmingham Stallions in the USFL.
Why Can’t NFL Players Bet on Games?
NFL players betting on games has been a contentious issue for decades. The league wants to protect the integrity of the sport and ensure that contests are highly competitive. Banning athletes from wagering on games aligns with this goal.
Players have a direct impact on results and can manipulate the action. For example, a player could bet against their team and perform poorly to improve their odds of winning.
Insider knowledge is another reason why NFL players can’t bet on games. Athletes have exclusive access to locker rooms and know about injuries, game plans, and controversies before the public.
They can use this knowledge to gain an unfair edge in sports betting.
Can NFL Players Bet on Other Sports?
We’ve solved the question of whether pros can wager on games. However, can NFL players bet on other sports outside of their league?
Yes, NFL athletes are allowed to wager on other sports where permitted. Official league rules state:
“All NFL Personnel other than Players are further prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating bets on any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, USTA, MLS), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), international (e.g., World Baseball Classic, World Cup), or Olympic sports competition, tournament or event.”
Interestingly, players are the only league personnel who can gamble on other sports. Coaches, referees, trainers, and other employees, are not allowed to bet on any sporting event.
Much of this situation concerns the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which fights for players’ rights. The NFLPA has ensured that athletes can enjoy sports betting involving non-league competitions.
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Just under 1,700 players are on active NFL rosters. Chances are, you’re not one of these people and are clear to wager on pro football.
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NFL Players Can’t bet On Pro Football, But You Can!
Back to the original question: can NFL players bet on games? No, players aren’t allowed to gamble on NFL games for multiple reasons.
First and foremost, they can directly influence the action to make their bets more likely to win. Secondly, players have unfair insider knowledge that improves their odds of beating bookies.
You don’t have to worry about this if you’re not a player. Instead, you’re free to bet on NFL games and chase bonuses at the best online sportsbooks.
We highly recommend you try the safe NFL betting sites we are recommending in this post.
NFL Gambling Policy FAQ
Can NFL players place bets on themselves?
No, NFL players cannot gamble on their performances. Some prop bets involve statistics on individual players, including quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.
Such players could influence associated prop bets to a great degree.
Can NFL players gamble in Vegas?
NFL players can enjoy most forms of gambling in Las Vegas. They can even bet on sports so long as they’re not wagering on pro football games. The key is that they avoid betting on NFL games.
Can NFL players go to the casino?
Yes, NFL athletes can visit casinos and play any game, such as blackjack, craps, poker, or roulette. The NFLPA has fought hard to ensure that players can enjoy most forms of gambling.
However, NFL players must refrain from betting on league games inside casino sportsbooks or real money gambling sites.