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How much player gambling is happening?

Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw, who is spending the current season on Injured Reserve, will spend all of next season on the Reverse/Suspended list for violating the league’s gambling policies. Some have wondered in the aftermath of Friday’s announced suspension of Shaw how deep the gambling rabbit hole may go.

“Not that this is the tip of the iceberg or anything, but I do think there’s more gambling going on than anyone thinks,” a veteran front-office executive told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America. “I believe fantasy football is a gateway drug; how many players play fantasy football, and for how much money in their leagues? Maybe not much, but the temptation has to be there to use inside info about your own team to use in a league. Players play cards and dominoes in the locker room. I just think it’s too easy for players to think they can get an edge because they’re sure they know more than the average bettor.”

It may be easy for players to think they can get an edge, but it was extremely easy for the league to catch Shaw. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Shaw went to a Las Vegas casino and placed sports bets “based on a misinterpreted understanding” of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that allows states to adopt legalized gambling. Shaw placed bets with his own name and ID, making no effort whatsoever to hide what he was doing.

So the question becomes whether and to what extent players, coaches, etc. who want to bet and who realize they shouldn’t use their own name or ID will find a way to do so -- and whether the league can detect any and all gambling activities that violate the broad policy that prohibits all betting of any kind of football.

It would be prudent for anyone who works in the NFL or for any of its teams and who is tempted to place a bet to assume that, eventually, they will be caught. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league has a robust monitoring and information network with multiple sources of information and substantial resources in place to ensure compliance with policies and to detect improper activity.

And if you’re caught, you’ll lose much more than whatever money was wagered. So to anyone who works in the NFL in any capacity and who reads these words: Don’t bet your career on making a bet on football. There are hundreds of other ways to lose money. Just pick one of those instead, and continue to make a living in your NFL job.