On January 25th the National Football League (NFL) issued a memo in advance of the 2024 Super Bowl in Las Vegas NV which is scheduled for this coming February 11. Any players from the two teams playing in the Super Bowl are not allowed to gamble while in Las Vegas from the moment they arrive until the conclusion of the big game. They are forbidden from betting on any sport or playing casino games regardless of whether it’s blackjack, craps, or slots. Local bingo halls will also be on alert for anyone of an age between 21-35 in the range of 6’2” and 245 pounds.
How does this differ from the existing NFL policy regarding player gambling? Here is a breakdown of the normal policy as of the 2023-24 season:
- Players can gamble in casinos AND bet on sports, except for NFL games.
- Any player who gets caught betting on the NFL will face at minimum one-year suspension. If a wager was on his own team, then he’ll face a minimum two-year suspension.
- Any player who bets on any sport (baseball, etc.) while at a team facility or taking part in team travel will face a two-game suspension.
- *New rule for 2024: Any players from the two teams playing in the Super Bowl are not allowed to gamble on Super Bowl weekend.
A significant number of the league’s players who are not on the two competing teams will also be coming to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII weekend. Sin City will be a hotbed of NFL elite, which surely has league stakeholders (teammates, coaches, owners, sponsors, and agents) concerned about the risk of policy violations. Will there be notable gaps in the NFL training camp, pre-season, and regular season roster at the onset of the 2024 season to come? The odds may suggest so. Below is a breakdown of 2024 NFL Super Bowl predictions as they pertain to player problem gambling.
Why Odds of Visiting NFL Players Violating Gambling Policy this Super Bowl LVIII Weekend in Las Vegas Are Concerning
Increased Access and Exposure to Triggers May Compromise Decision Making Ability
Before we get into the specifics of why NFL players require careful consideration regarding gambling disorder, it’s important to recognize the geographic problem posed to the NFL gambling policy as it applies to Super Bowl LVIII. Again, the game is in Las Vegas. Research has shown that enhanced accessibility, availability, and acceptability of gambling in casino-densified communities puts vulnerable individuals at great risk. As a result, the mere presence of a player who has a hard time controlling their compulsion to gamble will be put to the test while in Las Vegas.
Furthermore, triggers to gamble against NFL policy are everywhere, and will be ramped up during Super Bowl weekend. The entire city will be lit up with billboards, digital signage, and events that will call upon visitors (players included) to claim special Super Bowl promotional offers. There will be nowhere to hide for someone who is vulnerable to problematic gambling.
Decision making is at the risk of being compromised between Feb 9-11 while in the 702 area code. Every hotel, and nearly every facility, has a slot machine in arm’s length, just waiting to be pulled by a passing Super Bowl player. Non-competing players (who are allowed to gamble in Vegas) will be on casino and sportsbook floors, tempted to join the tens-of-thousands of on-premises visitors who will be laying something on the big game. The prediction that someone will fall prey to the urge is more than reasonable when you consider the information below.
Elite Athletes Are More Vulnerable to Problem Gambling
A number of studies have shown that elite athletes are more vulnerable to gambling disorder than the general population. The data indicates that occurrence of problem gambling is two to three times higher. In addition to having significant disposable income, players exhibit risk behavior and personality traits that are closely tied to problem gambling. These traits include the following:
- Extreme competitiveness
- High levels of energy and commitment
- Motivated by extrinsic rewards
- Unreasonable expectations of winning despite the odds
- Distorted optimism
- Quest for perfection
- Willingness to make sacrifices
View more on why there is a prevalence of gambling disorder among elite athletes.
When you consider the body of research, it becomes clear that the NFL must be on high-alert on behalf of players attending Super Bowl 2024 in Las Vegas.
What Can Be Done?
Knowing this vulnerability, the NFL will want to do more than issue a memo and debrief players about the existing and updated gambling policy. As a supplement to negative reinforcement (threat of suspension) the league is advised to reinforce their commitment to supporting players who may be more vulnerable to problem gambling. Players should be reminded (daily if necessary) that there are resources available to them should they face the urge to make a decision against league policy (and their mental/behavioral health). There are gambling disorder experts ready and waiting to take their calls. Kindbridge Behavioral Health offers elite athletes access to safe, confidential, and powerful online and telehealth support for problem gambling.
Concerned Players and Organizations
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