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Can NBA Players Bet on Themselves?

Publish Date: 09.04.2024
Fact checked by: Jackson T. Pierce

Sports betting has always been popular, and that popularity only continues to grow with the new wave of apps and laws bringing it out to the masses. However, while many citizens can freely place money on games, pro athletes do not have the same freedom.

NBA players are not allowed to bet on any part of the sport. That includes NBA games, as well as NBA properties including the G-League, WNBA and Summer League. They also cannot bet on individual stats, such as their own point scores or achievements like double-doubles.

To further explore that question of can NBA players bet on games, the following guide analyzes the rules and history surrounding players betting on team outcomes, as well as the current regulations surrounding betting within the NBA.

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Betting On Team Outcomes

The NBA has some of the strictest gambling regulations in all of sports. There is no wiggle room, nor are there any exceptions to the rule. Players signed to a team or who are part of an organization are strictly forbidden from placing any bets on the sport or its affiliates.

That means they cannot gamble on game outcomes, anything referring to individual statistics, players performances, or championships. Win totals, prop bets, or side bets are all strictly forbidden as well.

The reason for such regulations is that it would be too easy for players to affect a game’s outcome in order to create a desired outcome. Even something long term like regular season win total would be easy to influence given enough effort.

The same goes for betting on their own positive performances. While it may not seem problematic to let a player gamble on themselves winning a championship or taking home an award, it could still compromise the integrity of the game.

Regulations On Betting Within the NBA

The NBA is so tough on gambling that athletes also cannot place any money on teams or contests they are not involved with. Even something they cannot control, such as how well another player does or another team winning a game, is strictly prohibited.

That might seem extreme, especially due to the fact that players would have no specific tie-in to the result of the bet, but it makes the regulations much easier to follow. Having multiple exemptions or special rules around gambling would be confusing, and could lead to loopholes.

Rather, the NBA has a strict no gambling under any circumstances policy for the league and its affiliates. Players can bet on other sports leagues, but that’s as far as they can go.

The tricky aspect of such a ban, however, is that it’s hard to enforce. While players have been caught and punished for betting on basketball, monitoring every single athlete on every single team is incredibly difficult to do. That goes double with the rise of gambling apps.

The truth is, the league cannot know if players are placing illegal bets. Rather, the penalties for placing such bets is so severe they hope it deters athletes from even trying to gamble in the first place. For the most part, such penalties do a good job of keeping people honest.

Penalties for Betting Violations

As the above sections show, the NBA takes gambling very seriously. They do not tolerate it, and are not shy about handing out punishments. While such penalties differ from player to player, they almost all include fines and suspensions.

More serious betting violations, as well as repeat offenders, can also have their contract nullified or be permanently suspended from the league. Those are more extreme cases, but they do happen when players get caught breaking league rules.

If someone is accused or suspected of gambling, they don’t suffer penalties right away. First, the league conducts a thorough investigation. To do that, they work with third party companies to take a deep dive into suspicious bets or unusual activity surrounding on-court play.

If those two aspects line up, they then may pursue action or go after a specific individual. It’s important to note that such investigations, as the penalties are so severe, need to be proven without a doubt before action is taken. Many take a few months (if not more) to conclude.

Gambling has always reared its head around the NBA, but the activity has gotten more and more tricky to monitor as of late. That’s because in the past the U.S. gambling bans made it very hard for players to put money on games.

Now, with the rise of popular betting apps and websites, it’s much more accessible. The rise in legality across various states have made it much easier to gamble. Where a player would once have to jump through multiple hoops to place a bet, they can now do it from their phone.

That’s why the NBA, among other popular sports organizations, worked so hard to stop legal betting. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the fight is only going to get more difficult.

Even worse is that there are no legal protections for players accused of illegal gambling. While the Players Association would undoubtedly stand by someone who’s proved innocent, they would still have to face punishment and fight it before being reinstated.

Conclusion

The NBA is tough on gambling, and for good reason. It’s not easy to keep an eye on everyone, especially with the rise of legal betting, but they do their best to dissuade players through fines and suspensions.

NBA athletes cannot be on themselves, they cannot bet on their team, and they cannot bet on the sport of basketball or any affiliates. Those regulations help keep everything in order and help ensure the contests are as fair as possible.

Though the answer to can NBA players bet on games may change somewhere down the road, as of right now they’re only option is to gamble on other sports. If they want to put money on their own, they will face consequences.

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