The NFL might not seem like its players’ conduct is always first and foremost on its mind, given numerous recent incidents ranging from domestic abuse to animal torture that have become a virtual epidemic these days.
But apparently playing casino poker is a strict no no for league players.
According to a recent report by celebrity gossip site TMZ, three football players were banned from taking part in a poker event by the NFL.
Despite accepting an invitation to ante-up at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, Florida, AJ Francis, Jason Fox, and Jordan Cameron were forced to cancel at the last minute after orders from the NFL.
Although the event was 100% legal and organized by TV host Andy Slater, the league insisted that the players were not allowed in because it violated the policy of NFL players attending public events inside a casino.
According to TMZ’s report, the players were forced to contact Slater a short time before the start of the tournament and announce they weren’t able to play.
This news was followed up by an official message from the NFL which reiterated its stance on casinos and poker events.
“There is a long standing policy that prohibits players — or any league personnel –from appearing at an event in a casino,” said an NFL official.
Being a part of the Miami Dolphins means that the trio of NFL stars would have been a huge draw for the Florida-based tournament. However, after the intervention of NFL, the overall appeal of the event took a hit.
The news certainly didn’t sit well with Slater or those who had pre-registered for the tournament, but this isn’t the first time the NFL has disappointed members of the poker community. Back in 2011, the American Football League served a notice to 30 players scheduled to take part in a charity tournament for the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
Despite agreeing to play the Phil Hellmuth-hosted event inside the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, players were told that they could only attend the event as spectators.
This apparent dislike of gambling is somewhat surprising given the NFL’s tolerance of the Daily Fantasy Sports industry. Although it doesn’t outwardly condone the industry, which essentially offers a form of sports betting to US citizens, a number of NFL teams have a working relationship with some with operators, such as DraftKings.
For many, this hypocrisy is more damaging for the NFL than for the gambling industry. However, the decision to block players from seemingly good causes is still disappointing for organizers of poker tournaments.