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NHL issues first sports betting ban to Ottawa Senators star Pinto

| By Robert Fletcher
The National Hockey League (NHL) has issued a 41-match ban to Ottawa Senators player Shane Pinto for violating its rules on sports betting.

Pinto becomes the first NHL player to be banned for betting on sports since the repeal of PASPA in mid-2018. New York-born Pinto has played for the Senators since joining the team from college in 2021.

The NHL did not disclose full details of the case, except that it linked to “activities relating to sports wagering”. League policy states players are not allowed to wager on NHL games but can bet on activities outside the league. 

However, the NHL said there is no evidence Pinto bet on any NHL game. As such, it is unclear as to what Pinto actually wagered on and why he has been banned.

“The NHL considers this matter closed,” the league says. “Absent the emergence of new information, we will have no further comment.

Pinto also released a statement on the matter, issuing an apology for his actions. 

“I want to apologise to the NHL, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family.” Pinto said. “I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

Senators will welcome Pinto back after betting ban

The Senators also acknowledged the suspension, saying Pinto would be welcomed back to the team after his ban.

“We were made aware of the NHL investigation into this matter and additional information was made available to the club upon the completion of the league’s investigation yesterday,” the team said.

“Shane is a valued member of our hockey club. He is an engaging, intelligent young man who made poor decisions that have resulted in a suspension by the NHL. We know he is remorseful for his mistakes.

“The Ottawa Senators fully support the NHL’s rules on gambling. While saddened to learn of this issue, the entire organisation remains committed to Shane and will work together to do what is necessary to help provide the support to allow him to address his issues and become a strong contributor to our community. 

“When the time is right and with the league’s blessing, we will welcome him back to the organisation and embrace him as one of our own.”

NFL players also banned for betting breaches

While this marks the first betting suspension in the NHL, other leagues have already taken action in similar cases. This is particularly apparent in the National Football League, which announced further sanctions this summer.

Denver Broncos player Eyioma Uwazurike was suspended indefinitely in July for a series of betting violations. 

The NFL said Uwazurike had been betting on NFL games during the 2022 season. However, it was not confirmed which games he was betting on. It was also not revealed whether his own team took part in these games.

In June, four other players were suspended for betting breaches. The Indianapolis Colts’ Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry were suspended until the end of the 2023 season. Demetrius Taylor, a free agent, was banned for the 2023 campaign while Nicholas Petit-Frere received a six-game suspension.

This came after five players were suspended in April, with the NFL ruling they had breached betting policy. Suspensions were issued to Detroit Lions receivers Jameson Williams, Quintez Cephus, Stanley Berryhill and CJ Moore. Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney was also suspended.

Italian football players hit with bans

Further afield, suspensions have been issued to several Italian football players for breaching betting rules.

Yesterday (26 October), Sandro Tonali was banned for at least 10 months after being found to have broken betting rules. Tonali, who plays for English Premier League club Newcastle United, was handed an 18-month disqualification.

The ban is initially only imposed in Italy but will almost certainly be extended globally. This will be reduced to 10 months should Tonali, who claims to be a gambling addict, complete a rehabilitation plan. Tonali will also pay a sizeable fine as part of his sanction.

Tonali is one of three Italian internationals who have been under investigation over gambling violations. He was named alongside Nicolò Fagioli and Nicolo Zaniolo.

Fagioli, who plays for Juventus in Italy’s Serie A, was handed a seven-month ban earlier in October. There has so far been no word on a sanction for Zaniolo, who currently plays for Aston Villa in England’s Premier League.

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