Several current NFL players will reportedly be fined by the NFL for taking part in a sporting event at a Las Vegas casino over the weekend.
The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino was the stage for the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship. The made-for-TV event was filmed on Friday and Saturday at the Sin City casino and is slated to broadcast on CBS later this spring.
Nearly three dozen NFL players reportedly attended the arm wrestling event in Las Vegas over the weekend and the decision made by several of them to compete will cost them. According to industry reports, the players violated NFL policy and will be fined by the league, with no indication yet of the amount of the fines.
The league’s gambling policy prohibits players from making appearances at casinos for any type of promotional event. Commenting on the decision by the players to attend the event, Joe Lockhart, executive vice president for communications and public affairs for the NFL told USA Today, said, “Had we been asked in advance if this was acceptable, we would have indicated that it was in direct violation of the gambling policy.” Adding, “No one sought pre-approval.”
Coaching one of the teams in the event is Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has clashed with the suits at NFL headquarters at 345 Park Avenue in NYC over a range of issues in the past. Former Seattle Seahawks running back, Marshawn Lynch, who announced his retirement via Twitter on the day of Super Bowl 50 and who last week reportedly told the Raiders he intends to come out retirement to play for the team, also attended the event, however, because he is still officially retired, he apparently won’t be fined by the NFL.
Running the show is Encinal Entertainment, a California-based company co-owned by Alan Brickman, who promotes the TV package as a chance “to get to know the players behind the scenes,” according to USA Today. Brickman reportedly disputes the contention that the company didn’t seek pre-approval from the NFL, telling USA TODAY Sports that, starting in January, he communicated with not one but two different league departments, in an attempt to make a deal where the NFL would be partnered with the event.
While the NFL obviously declined, Brickman reportedly claims that during the dialogue with the NFL, specific guidelines were suggested that included no images be shown of alcohol or and gambling-related activities during the broadcast. He also said that during the taping of the events, gambling machines near the events being taping were turned off, according to the report. He reportedly told the news agency on Friday night from Las Vegas, “With a team coming here, I’m sure they’re branding it as a family destination.”
In spite of the NFL’s longstanding antiquated public stance on sports betting, on March 27, league owners voted 31-1 to allow the Raiders franchise to relocate from its current home at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to a new $1.9 billion stadium in Sin City. A betting ban hasn’t been requested by the NFL on Raiders games when the team leaves Oakland for Las Vegas, and league commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly said they have no plans to do so.
However, the team’s move to Las Vegas in 2020, does not mean that the NFL is relaxing its gambling policy, one that prohibits dealings with casinos or other any kind of gambling establishments, as indicated by commissioner Goodell’s statement last month towards the conclusion of the NFL owner meetings in Phoenix, “We did not change any of our gambling policies in the context of the Raiders relocation,” and, “It wasn’t necessary and the Raiders didn’t ask us to do that. We don’t see changing our current policies.”