The NFL is expected to levy fines on current NFL players who took part in a recent arm wrestling contest at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, according to Ian Rapoport. There is no word on the size of the fines, but it is connected to the league’s gambling policy.
NaVorro Bowman, James Harrison, Marquette King, and numerous other players were on hand for the event this past weekend. It was filmed and CBS is expected to air it later in May, with the championship round airing in early June. There were over 30 current and former players involved in the event.
The NFL’s gambling policy prevents players and officials from going to casinos in a promotional capacity. A player can spend time in a casino on their free time, but the league takes issue with anything that is in a more official capacity. The most notable recent example of that was in 2015, when Tony Romo was set to take part in a promotion with a fantasy football company. The draft event was set to take place at a convention center connected to a casino, but the NFL shut it down.
This arm wrestling event took place at the MGM Grand. NFL VP of communications Joe Lockhart said none of the players asked in advance about taking part in the event. He said if they had inquired, the league would have told them, “it was in direct violation of the gambling policy.”
The league is entitled to their rules, but as is often the case, there are some questions about consistency in enforcement. Players cannot take part in promotional events, and referees are not allowed to visit casinos at all during the season.
At the same time, the New Orleans Saints have previously held their training camp The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The Greenbrier is a resort that also happens to have a casino on the grounds. The Houston Texans have since replaced them there. And of course, this is also the league set to move a team into Las Vegas. They claim gambling isn’t as big an issue because the city is diversifying its businesses, but really they’re going simply because the city offered substantial public funds.
The NFL is trying to have its cake and eat it, too. These are not apples-to-apples comparisons, but there is a certain double standard that seems to exist.