The Ottawa Senators have suspended center Shane Pinto for 41 games, the longest suspension in NHL history, for violating the league's gambling rules. But don't forget to sign up for FanDuel, DraftKings, or any of the other gambling platforms the National Hockey League partners with.
Pinto's suspension made waves last week when it was announced, not just for its historic nature, but for showcasing what hockey fans are calling an "ironic" double standard. The 22-year-old was found to have violated the league's sports wagering policies, but was not found to have bet on NHL games.
Riley Sewell, a real estate agent who comments on NHL news through his Instagram account, said in a video post reacting to Pinto's suspension that the league's decision was "a little ironic in my opinion" considering how widespread gambling advertisements are on NHL networks.
"The NHL has shoved gambling down all of our throats with every broadcast of an NHL game you've watched this year or last. I mean, Shane Pinto has a BET99 ad on his helmet in this picture," he said, referencing a picture used in a news story about Pinto's suspension. "So, I don't think the league is in a position to hand out the longest suspension in history, while clearly gambling ads have become one of the highest sources of their revenue."
In the 2022-2023 season, the NHL accepted $1.28 billion in sponsorship revenue from gambling platforms, increased 21 percent from the previous season. Gambling clubs sponsor not just the NHL, but also many connected youth leagues.
According to research, between 1 percent and 2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 2 to 4 million adults, will experience a gambling disorder in their lifetime. An additional 2 to 3 percent, or approximately 4 to 6 million, have symptoms that would qualify them for a diagnosis of mild to moderate gambling addiction.
While casino and lottery betting are the most common forms of gambling, sports betting platforms have rapidly grown in the past decade and are cited as capable of leading to addiction.
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In a statement, Pinto apologized for his actions, saying he "looks forward to getting back on the ice with my team.” While the Senators said that they will “welcome [Pinto] back” after the suspension “when the time is right," they also stated that they “fully support the NHL’s rules on gambling.”
According to ESPN, the NHL's collective bargaining agreement states that "gambling on any NHL Game is prohibited," but formal policy on where sports wagering is allowed is administered on a team-by-team basis. NHL players are permitted to bet on other sports, including events such as the Superbowl and March Madness. Pinto was not found to have bet on NHL games, but the full nature of his rule violations has not been revealed.
GameBlazers, a fantasy football platform, poked fun at the situation on their hockey account, noting how recent Stanley Cup Champions the Vegas Golden Knights had their star player, Mark Stone, use a slot machine during a ceremony on ice.
“Mark Stone suspended 41 games for gambling on the ice during the Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony,” they joked. “Suspension is sponsored by BetMGM.”
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