As the legal gambling industry in Ontario matures by the day, the CFL is taking action to update their league’s policies surrounding sports betting. The updates are designed to keep the league in step with regulations imposed on sports betting in Ontario and in line with the major sports leagues in the USA.
The CFL officially formed in 1958, and the roots of the league date back as far as 1907. The league has long had policies in place to ensure the integrity of the game, and there has never been a match fixing scandal in the league’s long history. Rather than wait for a problem to happen, at the recent Canadian Gaming Summit the league announced that it will be issuing an update to their policies around gambling to ensure they stay protected with the quickly growing legal sports betting market.
CFL Director of Football Eric Novio spoke on the subject at the CGS, candidly expressing his intention to ensure the league operates with the utmost integrity as the amounts wagered on their games continues to grow. The CFL is taking a methodical approach by enlisting experts in match fixing to not only craft a top quality policy but also to educate players and other league employees about the rules to prevent an accidental infraction. Novio said “It’s an ever-evolving process for us. We want to make sure we’re keeping our athletes and the integrity of the game safe. At the end of the day, that’s what we define ourselves by.”
Clearly the vast majority of players and other people who work in the game have no ill intent. However, given the potential for an enormous payday, the temptation is certainly there. With the CFL’s minimum salary set at just $70,000, the players are not earning the astronomical sums that athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are able to secure. According to Sportradar’s data each CFL game can generate as much as $4 million in handle, which creates the opportunity for a fixed match to deliver a substantial windfall for a corrupt gambler.
The CFL has never had a match fixing scandal, but the Canadian Soccer League in 2012 discovered that as many as 42% of their games were influenced by gambling interests. NFL player Calvin Ridley was recently caught breaking the NFL’s policy against wagering on football games, and while he was not found to be influencing the action in any way, the fact that a player making north of $11 million per season would violate the league’s gambling policy in any fashion provides more proof that the risk is there.
In addition to their efforts to create a cutting-edge policy as well as educate players and staff about their responsibilities, the CFL is also leveraging technology to ensure that sports bettors and fans alike can trust the league’s integrity. The league has partnered with Genius Sports to provide statistical data, and as part of the partnership agreement, Genius Sports will utilize their technology to monitor games for potential irregularities. The CFL also works with the International Betting Integrity Association to identify potential corruption.
Legal sports betting always comes along with the risk that nefarious actors will try to exploit betting markets on online gambling sites for their own personal gain. By proactively addressing the issue, the CFL is in a great position to continue their long-standing history of protecting their game from those who might seek to harm it to make a quick buck.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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