I’ve generally been in favor of sports betting getting legalized despite never being a gambler myself. Sports betting is one of those things that’s just going to happen anyway regardless of legality, like sex work, so it’ll be better to legalize it and regulate it, create an industry around it, than to decry it and have all that shit happen anyway with none of the positives.

This does of course cause its own share of issues, like how goddamn many sportsbook app commercials we get now being just one extremely irritating side effect. It’s jarring to see two or three per ad break, outnumbering the Whopper ads and sometimes even the car ads. But commercials are an annoyance. The real problem the NFL has to figure out now, along with the other sports leagues, is how to control players and related personnel gambling on the games themselves. Calvin Ridley got sent into purgatory for a year for betting on a few games he wasn’t even a part of. Several players this season are also getting the full suspension. Just this week it came out that Isaiah Rodgers from the Colts got busted for it.

This is going to be a problem. I fully agree you absolutely cannot have players betting on games. Not on their own games, not on games they aren’t involved in, maybe not even games in other leagues since many of these guys are all friends. The instant betting was accepted and partnered with the NFL, scrutiny on outcomes immediately comes into more question. We could have accusations of point-shaving cropping up soon, if not already. Certain fans already act like assholes when a player doesn’t perform as expected for a fantasy team, now imagine how those people are going to act when gambling and big money is involved.

Besides that, players are going to want to gamble. 99% of players are sports fans just like us, who watch games just like us. Who probably already made bets just like us. Several players caught didn’t even seem to realize the way they did it was violating the policy. But this is simply a conflict of interest. Players can control how they play the game and if they have money on the line, giving up a TD you could have stopped late in garbage time might pay off for some DB. Players will know things about other teams that the general public does not. It’s like sports insider trading. You can’t have it, and the NFL has to make sure this cannot happen because it threatens the integrity of the sport. They already have enough things threatening that.

Of course, how strict is too strict? Pretty much everyone agreed that Calvin Ridley getting a full year suspension while serial predator Deshaun Watson got 11 games from a league throwing Ceasers Sportsbook commercials at us every possible second was outrageous. The league absolutely has to stop these players and make it absolutely clear that it is not allowed but there is a limit to sensible punishments. The League has already eaten some PR shit with their inconsistent punishments. I don’t think a year off is fair (not for a first offense at least), but 6 games might be just fine. It might also have to depend on what the player bet on. Their own team? That’s a paddl’n of a full season. Another game they had nothing to do with? Lesser paddl’n. Another thing I wish the league, or broadcast rules in general should do, is make marketing the gambling during games illegal. I selfishly want the ads off my TV but we don’t advertise cigarettes anymore for a reason. Sports betting should be legal, but it should be careful about it because gambling is still a potential addiction and life ruiner and shouldn’t be advertised to kids.

I’m genuinely curious to see how all of this gets handled going forward.