NFL Players Association Takes First Step In Responsible Gambling Education

Posted on July 23, 2020

Responsible gambling moves into a new arena.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) wants to educate former athletes on the dangers of gambling addiction. And to do so, the NFLPA signed a two-year agreement to bring former NFL players together to learn about responsible gambling and sports integrity.

EPIC Risk Management and GVC Foundation US partnered with the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation to create, market, and launch live and virtual educational programs for NFLPA members.

“This is the first program that the NFLPA has ever run on problem gambling education and awareness,” said Andre Collins, executive director of the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation.

“As the first major professional sports league in the US to undertake this project, we’re proud to tackle this issue head-on. We urge all sports leagues to address problem gambling with the seriousness it deserves.”

The education program is a proactive measure for the NFL, one that Collins hopes other professional sports will follow.

Team effort for responsible gambling education

EPIC Risk Management is a gambling harm minimization consultancy. GVG Foundation US is the responsible gambling arm of GVC Holdings.

Together, the two plan to create the gambling addition program while the NFLPA markets and coordinates the program to its members. In turn, the sessions will aid in research about pro athletes and their connection to problem gambling. That research will be conducted by the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.

But the sessions won’t be led by just anybody. In fact, former NFL athletes will present responsible gambling information.

One of those former stars is Amani Toomer. The former New York Giants wide receiver plans to deliver educational sessions throughout the US in cooperation with EPIC and GVC.

“Professional athletes are highly susceptible to problematic gambling behavior,” Toomer said in the press release. “Educating these former players on how to gamble responsibly and act with integrity is a crucial step forward for all sports.”

Gambling addiction and pro athletes have a long history

Professional athletes and owners have authored tragic tales of gambling addiction over the years.

Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose was forced to sell his team because of massive gambling debts. Before he died, Tose estimated he’d lost more than $20 million at Resorts International and $14 million at the Sands.

Perhaps the most notorious compulsive gambler is Art Schlichter, the former No. 1 NFL draft pick embroiled in decades of gambling addiction. It resulted in a number of jailed sentences and the loss of his marriage.

Schlichter is still serving a federal jail sentence for a financial plot in which he promised college and NFL game tickets, including tickets to the Super Bowl, to buyers. He never delivered the tickets despite being paid for them.

A recent story in the Indianapolis Star indicated he is still gambling while behind bars, using female acquaintances to place his wagers.

“Problem gambling is often described as a hidden addiction,” said Paul Buck, CEO of EPIC.

“The signs are difficult to spot, yet the effects can be devastating. Proactive education offered to vulnerable populations is crucial for curbing problem gambling. We plan to educate former NFL players through motivational talks provided by former professional athletes who’ve experienced the consequences of problem gambling, first-hand.”

‘Proactive education’ and preventive measures

The NFLPA becomes only the latest segment of large-scale awareness for responsible gambling.

The casino and sports betting industries, in a football sense, are already two touchdowns ahead of them. And preventive measures taken by the gaming industry are significant.

Atlantic City casinos not only have voluntary exclusion programs but have tied those programs to technology. Bettors become aware, via messaging, when they are close to pre-set spending limits they have arranged with the properties. The important concept of “slow down” is steady.

Most NJ sportsbook apps enables bettors to set spending limits for daily, weekly, and monthly amounts. They also feature a daily time limit regarding how many hours one can be logged in to the app in one day. The app acts like a babysitter, a conscience, or a sponsor. In fact, all major sportsbooks have responsible gaming sections on their apps or online. It is required by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Moreover, with the growth of sports betting in New Jersey and other states, programs like these (online or in-person) are becoming more and more relevant.

The NFLPA recognized this and moved forward with a first-of-its-kind educational program about responsible gambling for US pro athletes.

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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