Shane Pinto, center of the Ottawa Senators, was punished with a 41-game suspension by the NHL on Thursday. This suspension is the result of an NHL investigation into sports betting, and according to the league’s Thursday announcement, the player was found to have placed bets on non-league matches. Apart from assuring that evidence suggesting Pinto had placed bets on NHL games has not been found, the league did not provide further information and stated that it “considers the matter closed.”
In an apology issued after the announcement, Pinto addressed the situation. He apologized for his wrongdoings and said he took “full responsibility” for what he had done.
Pinto will not file an appeal, and his suspension will last until January 20, 2024. He will be permitted to once again play for the NHL starting January 21.
The Ottawa Senators made a statement where they made it clear that they knew Pinto deeply regretted his actions and that they were in full support of the NHL’s sports betting rules. They continued, expressing the team’s intention of supporting and staying “committed to” Pinto, and vowed to assist him in confronting his problems.
Sports Betting Bans are a Rarity When it Comes to the NHL
Pinto is the first NHL player in the twenty-first century to face punishment for violating the NHL’s gambling rules. The last sports betting case happened in 1948, when Don Gallinger and Billy Taylor of the Boston Bruins were banned for wagering on Boston Bruins games. Unlike Pinto, however, Gallinger did not immediately admit to committing the transgressions once the situation came to light. Instead, it was only when it became clear that the evidence against him was overwhelming that he came clean. The ban was lifted in 1970, more than two decades after it was issued.
Two years prior to Gallinger and Taylor’s suspension, the NHL banned Walter Pratt. The reason for his ban had to do with him placing bets on league matches. However, the said games were not matches that his team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, had participated in. Pratt’s admission of committing his wrongdoings led to the suspension, which was supposed to last a lifetime, being lifted after he was absent from 9 games.
Ultimately, prohibitions that have to do with sports betting are not a common occurrence for the NHL. If we look beyond the scope of the NHL, however, things are different. A number of players of the NFL league, in particular, have also faced suspensions tied to gambling. The year 2023 alone saw multiple bans, with the latest players to face suspension being the Indianapolis Colts’ Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Rashod Berry, who wagered on NFL games, and the Tennessee Titans’ Nicholas Petit-Frere, whose suspension was the consequence of him placing bets on games outside the league. Last year, Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons was prohibited from participating in the 2022 season as he had wagered on NFL games. The year 2019 saw the suspension of Josh Shaw, cornerback of the Arizona Cardinals, for the same type of transgressions.