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NHL suspends player 41 games for sports wagering

A pile of money. (Government Accountability Office)
October 27, 2023

The National Hockey League has suspended Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto for 41 games for “activities related to sports wagering,” the league announced Thursday.

Pinto’s suspension – which is equivalent to half of the NHL’s 82-game regular season schedule – is the league’s first sports gambling-related suspension amid a cultural rise in online gambling.

Pinto, 22, is currently a restricted free agent and hasn’t played in any of the Senators’ first six games of the season, which began Oct. 11. His suspension is retroactive to the Senators’ first game of this season. He won’t be eligible to play until Jan. 21, when the Senators face the Philadelphia Flyers, according to the Ottawa Sun.

“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family,” Pinto said in a statement. “I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

It isn’t immediately clear how Pinto violated the NHL’s sports wagering rules. The NHL “found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games,” the league said in a statement. However, Pinto’s online gambling account in the United States was flagged by a league partner due to “unusual activity,” and was reported to the NHL’s head office, the Ottawa Sun reports.

Under the NHL and NHL Players Association’s collective-bargaining agreement, gambling on any NHL game is prohibited, but gambling on other sports is allowed.

The Senators issued a statement saying it supports the NHL’s decision.

“Shane is a valued member of our hockey club; an engaging, intelligent young man who made poor decisions that have resulted in a suspension by the National Hockey League. We know he is remorseful for his mistakes,” the Senators said in its statement. “The Ottawa Senators fully support the NHL’s rules on gambling. While saddened to learn of this issue, the entire organization 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 organization and embrace him as one of our own,” the statement added.


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