As the NFL increases its business with gambling companies, it’s cracking down on players who break league rules on betting.
The league announced on Friday that Detroit Lions players Jameson Williams, Stanley Berryhill, Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore, along with Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney, have been suspended for violating the league’s gambling policy. They’ll be able to file for reinstatement at the end of this coming season, while Cephus and Moore will also have to find new teams after being released in light of the news on Friday.
Cephus, Moore and Toney have been suspended for at least a year for betting on NFL games, while Williams and Berryhill were hit with a less severe six-game suspension for wagers on college football games. Bets on college games are allowed, but the two reportedly did so at team facilities, which is prohibited. They will be able to participate in offseason activities and preseason games.
The news comes after Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver Calvin Ridley was recently reinstated after being suspended during the 2022 season for violating the league’s gambling policy. Ridley is set to play his first season with the Jaguars after spending his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
Former New York Jets wide receiver coach Miles Austin was also suspended last year for violating the league’s gambling policy. He bet on non-NFL games, which coaches aren’t allowed to do. His attorney Bill Deni previously said the league’s policies are inconsistent between staff, players and coaches.
Gambling suspensions of NFL players have been criticized by various media members and outsiders because the league is simultaneously growing its sports-betting footprint, with an array of partnerships with gambling companies and sportsbook operators including BetMGM and FoxBet. This new revenue stream is feeding into the NFL’s goal of earning $25 billion in yearly revenue by 2027. It also helped NFL teams increase sponsorship revenue by 14% YoY last season, according to intelligence platform SponsorUnited.
NFL owners last month agreed to allow sportsbooks at stadiums to operate on gamedays starting this season. The Commanders are the only NFL team currently with a retail sportsbook inside their home stadium, and the Arizona Cardinals opened their BetMGM sportsbook adjacent to State Farm Stadium last year.