What Gambling Violations by Drew Brees and Bernie Kosar Mean for Sports Betting
Gambling Violations Involving Drew Brees and Bernie Kosar continue to muddy the sports betting landscape.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Shut Down Betting on the Citrus Bowl Due to Drew Brees’ Association with PointsBet.
Former Cleveland Browns Star Bernie Kosar Was Released from Browns’ Radio Show for Placing a $19,000 Bet for Charity.
Strict Gambling Laws Continue to Punish Former Athletes, Including Brees, Kosar, and Miles Austin.
Last Friday, New Jersey gaming regulators ordered sportsbooks to halt bets placed on the Citrus Bowl between Purdue and LSU because “”an individual associated with the Purdue Football team” is in violation of state regulations.” Although unspecified, the individual was clearly retired NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who signed on to be an interim assistant head coach for Purdue during the bowl game.
Two days later, the Cleveland Browns parted ways with another former NFL quarterback star, Bernie Kosar, who was released from The Bernie Kosar Show with Hanford Dixon, after revealing on the show that he placed a $19,000 bet on the Browns to beat the Steelers.
These continued violations suggest that uncertainty remains when sports franchise employees and sports gambling intersect.
Drew Brees and PointsBet Parts Ways with Before Citrus Bowl
Drew Brees became a brand ambassador for New Jersey-based sportsbook PointsBet in June 2021. As part of his deal, he received an equity stake in the sportsbook. A week after he agreed to coach Purdue, PointsBet announced it was ending its partnership with Brees.
“PointsBet would like to congratulate Drew Brees on his appointment as Interim Assistant Coach for the Purdue Boilermakers,” PointsBet said in a statement released Dec. 22. “While this is an exciting next step in his career, after careful review, we have decided to end our ambassador partnership agreement with Drew. Regulatory and legal compliance, responsible gaming practices, and the integrity of legal sports betting are top priorities for our organization and this decision will allow us to uphold that commitment. We wish Drew all the best as he returns home to his alma mater.”
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement instructed the state’s sportsbooks to stop taking bets involving Purdue football and ordered that existing wagers on the Citrus Bowl that were placed after Dec. 15 must be voided, according to the notice that was sent Friday morning. Brees, a Purdue alum signed on to be an interim coach on Dec. 15.
In the notice, the gaming division did not name the individual associated with Purdue but stated they were in violation of statute 5:12A-11 (f), which prohibits athletes, coaches, referees, or directors of a sports governing body from having “any ownership interest in, control of, or otherwise be employed by an operator.”
Bernie Kosar Fired by Cleveland Browns for Placing a Wager for Charity
Sports wagering just went live in Ohio. If it hadn’t, Bernie Kosar might still have a job.
The team released Kosar after he acknowledged on social media that he placed a legal $19,000 bet on the Browns to beat the Steelers.
Kosar, a former Browns quarterback, tweeted that the Browns told him “my services are no longer desired or needed.” Kosar added that he’s “shocked and disappointed,” and that “orange and brown is my life.”
The NFL has strict rules against sports gambling for non-player employees. Jets receivers coach Miles Austin recently found that out the hard way. Calvin Ridley found out how strict the NFL can be on current players who choose to bet on the NFL. Kosar, however, is the first non-player and non-coach to be punished for a gambling-related matter.
Kosar stands by his statement that he placed the bet for charity and didn’t think it would be an issue because he’s not an employee but an independent contractor with the team.
“I’m not an employee of the Browns. As an independent contractor, I didn’t want to put them in this position,” he said during a recent podcast. “But since I’m not an employee, I didn’t think it was going to be an issue. And because it was for charity, again, now I see the position for the Browns and the league are in. In no way do you want to put them on the spot. In no way was this done in the interest of benefiting us.”
An Uneven Playing Field
As Great.com reported before, the NFL has different policies for players and other personnel. While that is likely the result of collective bargaining by the players, it also creates confusion for a person like Miles Austin, who lost the right to gamble legally on sports when he transitioned from athlete to coach.
Similarly, firing Bernie Kosar from a radio show for placing a legal bet, the proceeds of which he intended to donate to charity, is arguably promoting form over substance. The NFL policy against employees gambling on sports is undoubtedly intended to prevent even the appearance of impropriety. However, assuming he is tangentially considered an NFL employee, is anyone seriously concerned that Kosar, as a radio personality, would have the ability or desire to fix a game so that his charity bet would pay out?
Shutting down New Jersey bets because Drew Brees volunteered to be an interim assistant coach after promoting PointsBet is yet another example of form over substance. It was widely understood that Brees took the interim position to help support his alma mater as they deal with a coaching change. It is unclear how much involvement, if any, Brees had in the actual gameplan, but it seems highly unlikely that a Hall of Fame bound NFL quarterback would somehow use this limited role to somehow benefit a sportsbook.
It is even more difficult to accept the strict enforcement of these gambling policies when the leagues themselves have long been in bed with sportsbooks. Every major sport now has sportsbook partnerships. Stadiums are hosting sportsbooks inside their facilities, including the Washington National’s new addition of a BetMGM sportsbook, and Chicago’s United Center, where both the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks play, announcing an upcoming FanDuel sportsbook. Yet, if a radio personality or a one-off interim coach has any involvement with gambling it creates red flags.
Mobile sports gambling is a relatively new phenomenon, and kinks such as these will likely work themselves out. Until then, though, it seems the individuals will continue to be the ones to pay.
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