NFL Settles Lawsuit With Charity Over Gambling Policy
As much as the National Football League claims to want to distance themselves from gambling, they always manage to put themselves right in the middle of controversy. The latest involves the league agreeing to settle with a youth charity that filed a lawsuit regarding the NFL gambling policy last year.
On Friday, the NFL reached a settlement with Strike for Kids – a non-profit organization that partners with NFL teams and other professional athletes to put on events that will support educating the youth in the United States. Though the details of the settlement were not revealed, the case was resolved only one week after the charity requested that the federal judge require NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify in regards to the league’s current gambling policy. The trial was scheduled to begin September 25th but the case has now been sealed.
What Prompted The Charity To Sue The NFL?
In 2015, Strikes for Kids had scheduled an event that would host over 100 kids and 25 NFL players at the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino. The venue featured a 72-lane bowling alley that would set the scene for the event. However, before the event took place NFL attorneys informed the charity that players making appearances at casinos would be in violation of the NFL gambling policy. The charity then moved the event to the 16-lane Brooklyn Bowl that is located within the larger LINQ Promenade casino area.
In the lawsuit, the charity alleged that moving to a smaller venue cost the organization losses in revenue and sponsors. The non-profit also wanted answers as to why the original venue was not approved, yet the second location was even though it was also casino-related.
“There's only one person that can tell us what's the difference between the non-approved venue and the approved venue (Goodell),” stated Julie Pettit, an attorney for Strikes for Kids. “And he's this Oz behind the curtain, this person that the NFL will not allow us to talk to. And everyone points their finger at him, saying he's the only one that can make that determination.”
The charity’s initial petition to have Goodell testify was denied by the judge, however, the organization filed an appeal hoping to get another judge. The NFL reached a settlement agreement before the final decision on the appeal was rendered.
Inconsistencies With The NFL Gambling Policy
The only thing consistent about the NFL gambling policy is that it has provided a great deal of controversy in recent years. There are glaring holes in the NFL's gambling policy for legal betting, as can be seen by a serious lack of inaction in certain situations and over-the-top shows of power in other.
In 2015, the NFL barred Tony Romo and other star athletes from attending a fantasy football event that was scheduled to take place at a venue outside of, but in near proximity to, a casino. As a result, Pettit’s firm sued the NFL on behalf of Fan Expo LLC essentially forcing the event to be canceled. A judge initially sided with the NFL, however after requesting an appeal the case is currently pending.
In March, NFL owners approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in a 31-1 vote. It would seem that the NFL was loosening the reigns on enforcing the gambling policy, however, Goodell and the league have proven the contrary.
There was another incident in April of this year, where more than 30 active and retired NFL players participated in the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship. The event took place at the Hakkasan nightclub inside of the MGM Grand Casino, and as a result, the NFL stated that it would impose fines upon the participants. Perhaps realizing how rash it would be to penalize players for participating in a non-gambling event, those fines have yet to be assessed.
Adding to the hypocrisy is the fact that teams are permitted to participate in casino advertisements in a limited capacity. The Arizona Cardinals have been in recent talks with the Gila River Gaming Enterprises casino company in regards to purchasing stadium naming rights. There are provisions within the gambling policy that allow the sale of naming rights to certain casinos, while there are also restrictions that state no NFL stadium can be named after a casino company.
Even with the gambling policy being consistently inconsistent, the NFL has made no indication that they will make changes to their rules. Though the NFL was able to settle with the Strikes for Kids charity, the league must now focus its attention on handling the New Jersey sports betting appeal that was recently granted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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