Is Football Gambling Illegal for Athletes?

Football gambling is one of the more exciting versions of online gambling as the thrill of the bet and the exhilaration of the game weave together on long odds to more money.

It stands to reason, then, that some of the athletes who play the game might like to bet on the odds they’ll win. Depending on the location, this may or may not to be legal, as past experience has taught major sports leagues that allowing athletes and club owners to place bets leads to meddling in the outcomes of the games.

Gambling: Highly Regulated Entertainment

Gambling is one of the most heavily regulated activities in developed countries. Most online sites won’t even accept customers from the United States due to strict national gambling laws. On the other hand, some places have actually loosened gambling rules in recent years – look at Britain, who in 2007 paved the way for the widespread in-stadium football gambling (judi bola) that Europeans enjoy today.

The Legalities of Athletes Betting

Depending on the country in question, how legal it is for an athlete to place bets runs from a hard no to a murky, grey legal area.

Britain once again offers some of the clearest regulation on the issue, though they are not necessarily the rule. However, as one of the most gambling-friendly countries in their world, their standards are not considered unreasonable for other international sports bodies. 

The governing body for major league football in England, the Football Association, has imposed strict restrictions on who can and cannot vote based on their relation to the sport. Regulations are defined according to the levels of the football pyramid, with teams and individuals involved in the largest games having the harshest restrictions.

  • Players, managers, and club staff with any relation to the eight highest levels of the British men’s league systems (or the top two levels in the women’s system) are banned from providing insider information or themselves better on any matters with relation to football – globally, in fact.
  • Any match officials, coaches, and assessors at Level 3 plus following the FA’s referee classification system may not place any bets or leak any information relating to football (again globally).
  • Any of the aforementioned individuals who are involved with or have contacts in clubs at lower levels, as well as match officials operating at Level 4 or below, are banned from football gambling only in relation to matches and competitions that they can influence or in which they are involved in any capacity. Additionally, bets may not be placed in relation to the league in which they are a member.

While England is not the rule, their regulations fall in line with a lot of developed countries with a vested interest in both football and gambling. Where gambling is legal, often times, it only makes sense to keep those with a vested interest of the outcome of the game – more specifically, players, coaches, and league owners – out of the sport when it costs the most.

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