If you have ever been to Las Vegas before, it is no secret that resort casinos utilize star power to get patrons through the door all the time. Whether you are talking about pro athletes, models, or actors, casinos will host special events featuring these high-profile figures. Over this past weekend, Las Vegas’ MGM Grand did exactly that when it hosted the Pro Football Arm Wrestline Championship.
Though the event was for charity, the NFL has a strict policy against its players participating in casino-related events. At the center of this new controversy are two players from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey and James Harrison. The duo were both at the event, and James Harrison was actually listed as a co-host alongside former Seattle Seahawks great, Marshawn Lynch.
To make what can be a long story short, the NFL puts a lot of effort into disassociating itself with the gambling industry. Understanding that many gambling addicts place many wagers on NFL games, the league does not wish to be seen as exacerbating gambling addiction. For this reason, it prohibits its players from promoting gambling in any way, shape, or form.
NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart commented on Pouncey and Harrison’s Las Vegas appearance by saying, “Had we been asked in advance if this was acceptable, we would have indicated that it was in direct violation of the gambling policy.”
The policy to which Lockhart is referring says, in part, that players and personnel from the NFL are prohibited from “engaging in any advertising or promotional activities that reasonably can be perceived as constituting affiliation with or endorsement of gambling or gambling-related activities including, without limitation, the following:
· Making promotional appearances at casinos or other gambling-related establishments.
· Making promotional appearances at events that are sponsored by or otherwise marketed or advertised in connection with casinos or other gambling-related establishments.
· Using or allowing others to use one’s name and/or image to promote, advertise, or publicize casinos, other gambling-related establishments, or events sponsored by or otherwise marketed or advertised in connection with casinos or other gambling-related establishments.”
It doesn’t take a law degree, or any legal experience for that matter, to determine that Pouncey and Harrison were in direct violation of the league’s policies by way of their actions this weekend.
While it is very clear that the two Steelers players were in violation of the NFL’s casino policy, so to speak, some are still confused. After all, the NFL’s owners voted quite recently to move the Oakland Raiders to the very city Harrison and Pouncey are now being fined for visiting.
For many, this is blatant hypocrisy on the part of the league. By saying that it is ok for the Raiders to be moved to the gambling, casino mecca of Las Vegas, the message being sent is one of gambling tolerance. On the other hand, however, the NFL’s very players are not allowed to participate in the lifeblood of the NFL’s newest city—the gambling industry. Whether you agree that this is quite hypocritical or not, the reality of the matter is that both Pouncey and Harrison can expect some sort of financial penalty to be handed down before week’s end. Perhaps, this debacle will serve as a lesson to any other players who are thinking about making an appearance at a casino in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the country.