With sports betting so prevalent in the United States today, sports stars must be at the forefront of gaming integrity. Teams as well as gaming regulators expect players to adhere to regulations and rules, avoiding betting on matches or other actions that will harm the integrity of the sport. News broke late last week that a midfielder for Sporting Kansas City was suspended due to betting on Major League Soccer (MLS) games.
Details of the Betting Activity
Felipe Hernandez will serve his suspension without pay as the league investigates the alleged betting activity. An independent investigation began back in July which found that the player had taken part in sports betting while playing for the team, wagering on two matches within the league.
Hernandez did not wager on his team and the investigation revealed that the player did not use confidential or non-public information when wagering. The player told the team in early July of his betting actions. In speaking with the soccer club, Hernandez reportedly said that he was concerned about his safety due to debts he accrued from gambling.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP completed the investigation and were unable to find any evidence that a match within Major League Soccer was compromised due to the activity. The international law firm also determined that Hernandez did not bet on a match involving his team.
For Hernandez, the midfielder has started treatment for addiction and hopes to return to the game. On Twitter, Hernandez reported that he has been attending treatment and is taking responsibility for his actions.
The soccer player was able to compete in six matches during the season. He will continue the suspension for the remainder of the year and be eligible to play again by January 1.
It’s been three years since the Supreme Court decided to do away with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, allowing states to legalize sports betting individually. In that time, only one other case has surfaced involving a professional player betting on the league in which they work.
In 2019, Josh Shaw bet on NFL games while being an NFL player. He was injured and on the reserve list for the Arizona Cardinals. The incident with Shaw and Hernandez will most likely not be the last to occur as sports betting continues to grow.
States that offer legalized sports betting are constantly adding new services, both online and offline. Additional states are also considering legislation to legalize the industry. Leagues like MLS and the NFL will continue to inform players and other employees of integrity standards and expect the regulations to be met. Those who break the rules will have to face consequences such as Kansas City’s Hernandez with his unpaid suspension.