Bingo and the National Football League

Most people would never make a connection between American football and bingo but recent news reports suggest that several NFL players may face discipline because of their investments in an Alabama electronic bingo operation. Although bingo is looked upon as a harmless ‘soft’ form of gambling the NFL is extremely sensitive regarding any kind of gambling. It should be noted that sports gambling is responsible for a major part of the NFL’s high television ratings. Those who bet on football games usually watch the games they have bet on and the NFL likes the large number of gamblers watching the games.

While the NFL acknowledged the existence of sports gambling by creating the injury reporting rules which give the false impression that there is no insider information gamblers can obtain. The NFL has very strict rules in place when it comes to possible owner, coach, executive, and player involvement in any form of gambling. Sportswriter Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported that 25 NFL players could be required to give up any interests they may have in an Alabama bingo operation. The electronic bingo and entertainment operation was shut down in 2010 as part of an ongoing battle over legal gambling in the state.

In his new book lobbyist and now ex con Jack Abramoff said that he poured millions from Indian gambling operations in Louisiana into anti gambling organizations in Alabama. His efforts were partially successful and he even donated gambling money to ‘Christian’ groups opposed to gambling in Alabama. He was aided in the effort by Christian Coalition chairman Ralph Reed. The gambling operation in question is located 10 miles south of Dothan, Alabama and is known as Center Stage. The gambling operation previously went by the name Country Crossing and received extensive news coverage during the bingo controversy in the state. State authorities forced it to close when “electronic bingo” halls were ordered to stop using slot like bingo machines.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Yahoo writer Cole “If it were to be determined that an NFL employee had made an investment in violation of league policy on gambling-related activities, that individual would be directed to withdraw the investment and it would be reviewed for potential discipline.” Some of the players involved include Terrell Owens, Santana Moss, Santonio Holmes, Gerard Warren and Adalius Thomas. The players have invested about $20 million dollars into the project. If the players are forced to sell before the bingo hall reopens they may lose millions and could face disciplinary action by the league.

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