It is the fourth quarter of the 2015 Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Detroit Lions in front of a non-sold out crowd. With the clock running down Troy Polamalu misses what many think should be an easy sack and the Detroit QB throws what proves to be the game-winning touchdown.
Afterwards, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspends Polamalu for suspected game fixing. The reason behind this? For most of the 2015 season, there has been suspected game fixing going back to Week 2 when the Lions started to win games that they clearly should have lost. Towards the end of the season, players started coming forward from each team that lost to the Lions revealing that they were part of a game fixing scandal.
Upon further investigation, it appeared that bookies from 12 different casinos around the United States had gotten their hands into the pockets of up to 50 of the game’s top stars. The results of the scandal caused many long time season ticket holders to give up their seats, ESPN to sue the NFL for release of their TV contract, and bankruptcy for at least 3 NFL teams.
Fortunately, the above situation is something that the NFL will never see thanks to their anti-gambling policy. The league currently prohibits their players, team officials, and even referees from gambling in any form. While this policy may seem a bit strict, the purpose of the policy is to prevent game fixing in the form that was outlined above.
Some rare exceptions to this rule involve the participation of NFL players in charity poker events. These games usually send all the money collected straight to charity and winners receive non-cash awards. One caveat to that exception is that the events are not held in a casino, such as Ante Up for Africa at the WSOP. Those events are still off limits to players.
Game fixing is a serious concern for any professional sport and the NFL has taken proactive measures to prevent this. Players may have some restrictions on them while playing in the NFL, but the policy ensures that they have the potential for long careers, free from game fixing scandals.