NFL clears poker-playing replacement ref, provided she never gambles again

TAGs: National Football League, New Jersey Online Gambling, NFL, Ray Lesniak, shannon eastin, sports betting

nfl-poker-playing-refNew Jersey state Senator Ray Lesniak went on Fox Business’ Markets Now program on Thursday to discuss the state’s move to introduce single-game sports betting and the lawsuit filed by the nation’s major professional and collegiate sports bodies to block that move. Lesniak said sports betting would bring tourists to Atlantic City “particularly for big events,” noting that on weekends during the NCAA Final Four or the Super Bowl, “you cannot get a room in Las Vegas and Atlantic City is a ghost town.”

The perky blonde (is there any other kind?) Fox host challenged Lesniak on estimates she’d read regarding the $1.3b in annual revenues New Jersey was projecting sports betting would bring to the state, noting that Nevada’s gross revenue from sports betting in 2011 was just $141m. Lesniak responded that the $1.3b figure might be overstating the case a little, but insisted he’d still “take a billion.” Furthermore, Lesniak noted that, unlike Nevada, New Jersey was “a hotbed of sports. The [National Football League’s] Giants and the Eagles playing against each other will bring out everybody to enjoy the competition and place a bet as well.”

The NFL’s official stance regarding gambling is not only hypocritical – what else is that weekly injury report for, if not to help bettors make wiser picks – it’s also hysterically strict, even preventing players from appearing at casinos in any capacity that trades on their football connection (although the teams can now accept casino ads). Gambling is to the NFL what kryptonite is to Superman, which is why the NFL Referees Association – currently locked in a bitter labor dispute that has the NFL opting to use replacement refs for this year’s preseason games – thought they could make an issue of one of those replacement refs’ involvement with the World Series of Poker.

Shannon Eastin (pictured above) is set to become the first woman to act as an NFL line judge at the Chargers-Packers game Thursday night, but the ‘revelation’ that she’d taken part in the 2007 World Series of Poker temporarily put that gender milestone in jeopardy. After much hemming and hawing, the NFL issued a statement to NBC Sports clearing Eastin to take the field, as “past participation in an event such as a poker tournament does not disqualify a person from consideration as an NFL game official.”

However, the key word there is “past,” as Eastin would not be allowed to take part in a poker tournament during the season. Even in the off-season, Eastin can’t take part in the WSOP, which the NFL dubbed “a professional gambling event.” She doesn’t dare cross the threshold of any gaming facility, be it a casino or racetrack (dog or horse) during the NFL season, and even in the off-season, she’d have to give the league 24 hours advance notice of her intention to visit such a den of iniquity. You know, it’s a myth that the football is really made of pigskin. Makes us wonder if that object wedged up the NFL’s collective backside is really made of cork.


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