NFL’s gambling policy allows players to wager on casino games

Updated April 10, 2017 - 8:22 pm

The news that the NFL is expected to fine a group of current players for taking part in the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship at the MGM Grand has created the impression that NFL players aren’t allowed inside a casino.

But that’s not true. The league’s gambling policy not only allows players to visit casinos, it permits them to wager on casino games such as video poker, blackjack, craps and roulette on their personal time, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed Monday in an email to the Review-Journal.

“It’s the promotional appearance that is the concern,” McCarthy wrote.

The NFL’s longstanding policy prohibits all players and league personnel from “making promotional appearances at casinos or other gambling-related establishments.”

Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Raiders punter Marquette King, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills and Patriots safety Patrick Chung are among the more than 30 players expected to be fined for taking part in the made-for-TV event that was filmed Friday and Saturday at the MGM Grand’s KA Theatre and Hakkasan nightclub.

Former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is expected to come out of retirement to play for the Raiders, also attended the event but isn’t expected to be fined because he’s officially retired.

The competition is scheduled to be shown on CBS on May 27 and 28, with the championship round to be broadcast on June 3.

In addition to allowing players to wager on casino games, the NFL’s gambling policy permits players to bet on races at horse or dog racing tracks.

NFL Draft props posted

It didn’t take long for the William Hill sports book to start taking action on the NFL Draft. Two days after the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved William Hill’s petition to accept wagers on the draft, the book posted a menu of 10 prop bets Sunday morning. Shortly thereafter, a bettor wagered $10 that there would be more than 2½ Louisiana State players selected in the first round, which will take place April 27.

Comeback Sunday

Sergio Garcia was a 9-1 underdog to win the Masters on Sunday during in-progress wagering at William Hill and the Westgate on the 13th hole, when he trailed Justin Rose by two strokes and hit into a bush and took a penalty stroke before saving par. But El Nino’s comeback victory for his first major paled in comparison to two others on Sunday.

Trailing the Cavaliers by 19 at halftime, the Hawks were 12-1 underdogs in in-progress wagering at William Hill. Atlanta trailed by 26 in the fourth quarter before rallying to force overtime en route to a 126-125 win.

Five William Hill bettors took the Angels at 40-1 odds before they scored seven runs in the ninth inning to stun the Mariners 10-9.

Brutal bad beat

In one of the worst bad beats imaginable, Knicks bettors getting 12½ points from the Grizzlies on Friday lost by 13 when Wade Baldwin IV made a seemingly meaningless 41-footer at the buzzer. He appeared to be dribbling out the final 19 seconds on the clock when he heaved the shot from near half-court to close out Memphis’ 101-88 win.

New York bettors can blame Colonel Sanders for the bad beat. Baldwin apparently took the final shot to give the Grizzlies 100 points, which, as part of a promotion, resulted in free KFC chicken tenders for the crowd.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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