Paul Burns says the NFL's suspension of Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley is proof positive the system works.
The NFL banned Ridley for at least the 2022 season Monday for gambling on games last season. The league said Ridley bet on contests over a five-day stretch in November 2021 when he was away from the Falcons and on the non-football injury list to deal with his mental health.
"It's unfortunate," Burns, the president/CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, said via telephone Tuesday. "I don't know all the particular details of Calvin Ridley's case, but the fact is the system worked.
"I think it's a lesson that there are rules in place and if there are oversights, there are people monitoring (and) there will be consequences. The system did what it was supposed to do."
Single-game sports betting became legal in Canada last August. The industry is set to fully open in Ontario on April 4 and Burns said the province's regulatory statements include integrity standards.
"They (provincial statements) use the term, insiders, in the standards but it's insider betting," Burns said. "So people who are part of whatever is being bet on can't bet.
"That would include players, officials, team officials, leagues or anybody who is engaged would be prevented under the regulatory standards of Ontario and are not to bet."
The NFL also said its investigation found no evidence Ridley used inside information or that any game was compromised. The league added there was nothing to suggest that Falcons' coaches, staff or players were aware of Ridley's betting activity.
Ridley can petition for reinstatement after Feb. 23, 2023 but also has the right to appeal the suspension.
After the suspension was announced, Ridley tweeted he'd wagered a total of US$1,500 and that he didn't have a gambling problem. Ridley, a 2018 first-round pick, was slated to earn $11.1 million salary this season.
"I don't know the particulars of what the bets particularly were on," Burns said. "But it was on the sport in which he plays and the league in which he was employed by and I'd see it from that point of view.
"What we'll see is it's a learning mode for a lot of people to understand there's rules in place. For some professional sports leagues, and I'm not familiar with the NFL's policy, the collective agreements (state) players can't bet on sports, they can't bet on their own sport so they need to know (and be) aware of that."
On Monday, the CGA announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Betting Integrity Association for Ontario and the wider Canadian market. It will provide a co-operation and co-ordination framework on betting and related integrity issues while also protecting the market, sports, consumers, and regulated betting operators, from corrupt activities.
The IBIA was recently accredited by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as an independent integrity monitor.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press