Sports gambling is coming to the U.S. and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is doing its part to make it a viable, safe industry. It is launching an initiative that will not only promote sports gambling education within the league, but will also foster a better overall understanding of the industry across the entire U.S. The program has been developed through collaborative efforts between the union and several problem gambling advocacy groups, and could even help raise sports gambling awareness to the point that opponents are left on the sidelines.
The Professional Athletes Foundation (PAF), a union-founded entity that gives former NFL players financial assistance and counseling, announced yesterday a two-year agreement with GVC Foundation U.S. and EPIC Risk Management that will lead to the creation of both in-person and virtual sports gambling education programs for members of the NFLPA. The collaboration will also proactively market and oversee the programs once they go live. GVC and EPIC will be responsible for the creation of the content, and the PAF, as well as the NFLPA as a whole, will provide the management of the advertising, marketing and delivery of the programs to union members.
Explains Andre Collins, the executive director of the PAF, “This is the first program that the NFLPA/PAF has ever run on problem gambling education and awareness. As the first major professional sports league in the U.S. to undertake this project, we’re proud to tackle this issue head-on. We urge all sports leagues to address problem gambling with the seriousness it deserves.”
GVC Foundation U.S. is a responsible gambling entity that was founded by gaming operator GVC Holdings. It has already been involved in numerous programs designed to help mitigate concerns over problem gambling, including an initiative that involves Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching hospital belonging to Harvard Medical School, as well as another involving the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the International Gaming Institute.
Martin Lycka, a trustee of the foundation and the director of regulatory affairs at GVC Holdings, views these initiatives as positive indications that the gaming industry is being proactive in protecting consumers. He explains, “The gambling industry has a moral responsibility to look after consumers and ensure their wellbeing. Those with gambling disorders and addictive tendencies deserve our unyielding support, and this program is a perfect extension of our mission to provide that.”
Another GVC Foundation U.S. trustee can relate directly with football players. Amani Toomer is a former wide receiver for the NFL’s New York Giants and is now involved with the foundation. He will be involved in the educational sessions launched through the new partnership and asserts, “Professional athletes are highly susceptible to problematic gambling behavior. Educating these former players on how to gamble responsibly and act with integrity is a crucial step forward for all sports.”
This is a groundbreaking effort on the part of the NFLPA and the others involved, and shows how far sports gambling has come. It is still a practice that receives a lot of resistance for all the wrong reasons, and the fact that programs like these are being developed is indicative of an overall shift in how the activity is viewed. Within just a few short years, there’s little doubt that nationwide sports gambling will be readily available as the size of the opposition pool continues to decrease.