Josh Shaw banned for betting

September 13, 2020
Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was banned for betting on games?

Updated: June 12, 2024

Is it fair that Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw was banned for the entire 2020 NFL season for betting on games?

In November 2019, an NFL investigation revealed that defensive back Josh Shaw of the Arizona Cardinals engaged in sports betting, and, as a result, the League decided to ban him for the entire 2020 NFL season.

At the time, the decision came as a shock to his fans, who noted that Shaw was the first player to receive such punishment since the 1980s.

The defensive back had already been out for the season because of a shoulder injury, and many argued that the indefinite ban would bring an end to his career as a football player.

Banning a player from the NFL definitely sounds like a harsh punishment, so it’s worth asking the question:

  • is the NFL’s decision fair?
  • And if it is, what impact could this historical ban have on the future of the League and, consequently, on football betting?

What did Josh Shaw do?

Josh Shaw was banned after an internal investigation revealed that he had engaged in football betting, which is prohibited for anyone working in the NFL.

The investigation started after the NFL received a tip from Caesars Entertainment that Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw had broken the official regulations.

Apparently, Shaw declared that he was a professional football player when he created his betting account with the casino, which allowed the Nevada State Gaming Control Board to track down his steps immediately.

It seems that Shaw bet on three games, including the one between the Buccaneers and the Cardinals, where he wagered on his team losing, which was pretty controversial, considering that in all sports betting cases so far, players only bet for their teams.

According to the NFL’s official press release, there was no evidence to support that Shaw had used any insider information when placing the bet or that his coach and teammates knew about his activities.

What do official NFL regulations say?

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the effective ban on sports gaming to be unconstitutional, which means that fans of the sport could once again place bets.

The NFL, however, stood firm on their decision that NFL personnel shouldn’t be allowed to gamble.

According to the official Gambling Policy for NFL Personnel 2018, all league personnel are strictly prohibited from betting on football and other sports. The restriction applies to everyone, from players and coaches to trainers, game officials, even security personnel.

In addition, NFL personnel isn’t allowed to engage in any kind of gambling activity, including poker and other casino games, since that could be detrimental to the League’s reputation.

According to the NFL policy, players are strictly prohibited from sharing inside information (tipping) about NFL games and events and accepting gifts and services from casinos and gambling-related venues.

Violations of the policy are sanctioned by the NFL and disciplinary actions may include a fine, termination of employment, or a ban for life from the NFL.

Was the NFL’s decision too harsh?

Josh Shaw is the first NFL player to be suspended in 36 years, so the decision came as a shock to everyone, especially considering how complicated the relationship between the NFL and betting is.

The NFL has partnered with many sportsbook operators after sports betting was legalized, and even Caesar’s Palace, where Shaw placed the bets, is the League’s Official Casino Sponsor.

Nevertheless, the NFL is adamant against personnel betting on sports games, and many believe that Josh Shaw was used as an example and that he was the unfortunate victim of a business decision.

Fans believe that the severity of the penalty is unjustified. After all, players have received far less for more serious acts, including gun use and alcohol abuse, so banning someone indefinitely for betting seems far-fetched.

In the meantime, Shaw filed an appeal, explaining that he believed that sports betting was legal for everyone, including NFL players.

That explanation clearly didn’t hold up, since the NFL did send an internal memo to everyone stating that, even if sports betting was now legal, NFL staff was still prohibited from doing it.

Shaw’s legal team also argued about the precedent; not only had a player not been banned for betting in the past 36 years, but players received lesser penalties for more serious acts.

Unfortunately, the appeal wasn’t successful, and Josh Shaw is still banned from playing. According to the NFL, he may file a petition for reinstatement, but no sooner than February 15, 2021.

As for the fairness of the decision, this is a pretty grey matter. Legally speaking, the NFL has all the right to suspend any player for breaking the official regulations, and it was specifically mentioned in the gambling policy that no player is allowed to bet.

Fans, however, are very upset because the severity of the punishment doesn’t seem to match the one of Shaw’s actions.

The mantra of the NFL is to respect “the integrity of the game”, but integrity is a subjective term. Over the years, many other players have strained the NFL’s reputation through unethical acts (some of them downright illegal), but they weren’t suspended indefinitely.

So, it sounds more like the NFL is more worried about their image and how they are associated with betting.

Historically, the NFL has been against football betting.

Now, they can’t control how regular people wager, but they can control the activities of their staff. With Josh Shaw’s penalty, the NFL sent a clear message that betting will not be tolerated among staff and that they won’t hesitate to take extreme measures against the ones who break the rules.

As to how the NFL will manage to enforce these anti-betting measures, that’s where things could become complicated.

Sports betting has become increasingly popular, especially online, and in the future, we could see more NFL players and staff trying it out.

Would it be realistic for the NFL to ban everyone indefinitely?

Certainly not.

For fans and staff alike, the wiser course of action would be to tweak the guidelines and create a special division in charge of overseeing the integrity of the game.

Author Andy

Hi I'm Andy and as a regular bettor on sports I know where to spot a good sportsbook sign up deal. With over 25 years of placing wagers on horse racing and football I can lend my expertise to writing and advising you on everything sports and NFL betting. To your success.

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