NHL Suspends Ottawa Senators C Shane Pinto For Betting Activity; First Betting Ban In 75 Years

The National Hockey League has suspended Ottawa Senators free agent Shane Pinto for 41 games in connection with sports betting activities. This historic suspension marks the league’s first gambling-related ban in 75 years — and one of the NHL’s longest bans for off-ice activity.

NHL Suspends Shane Pinto For Betting Activity

The NHL released an official statement on Thursday announcing Pinto’s suspension. The league began investigating the issue after information surfaced connecting Pinto to a third-party bettor.

Exact details of Pinto’s wagering missteps are unknown, though the league said it found no evidence connecting Pinto to any NHL wagers.

As a result, the NHL now considers the situation closed unless new information emerges on the matter.

Via a statement released by the Senators, Pinto commented:

“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. I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

According to the NHL Players’ Association, Pinto played a role in negotiating his suspension terms and won’t be appealing the ban.

The Senators released a statement Thursday in response to the suspension, saying:

“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 NHL. We know he is remorseful for his mistakes.”

Ottawa has voiced its full commitment to Pinto’s recovery, though the club also noted its complete support of the NHL’s gambling regulations.

The Senators had been in negotiations with the restricted free agent since the beginning of summer. However, ensuing discussions left Pinto unsigned by the start of regular season. Ottawa was said to have been nearing a $2.2 million contract agreement with the 22-year-old free agent when news surfaced of the league’s investigation.

First Betting-Related NHL Suspension In 75 Years

Shane Pinto’s half-season ban is especially monumental for the NHL, as it marks the first gambling-related hockey ban in 75 years. The last official suspensions came in the late 1940s, when the NHL issued bans to Babe Pratt, Billy Taylor, and Don Gallinger.

Back in 2006, Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet took a voluntary two-year leave of absence after being involved in a New Jersey-based national sports betting ring. The NHL never issued Tocchet an official suspension.

NHL Takes Preventative Steps To Protect League Integrity

Although betting on the NHL is less popular than betting on the NFL or MLB, professional hockey has taken more preventative steps to protect the game’s integrity than many other leagues.

As one of the NHL’s primary partners, the integrity service brand Sportradar monitors sportsbook lines and flags the league when any inconsistencies occur. The partnership also allows the NHL to conduct regular integrity sweeps by cross-referencing sportsbook customer databases with the league’s own database of players and employees.

The NHL used this method to investigate current Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane in 2021 after his estranged wife accused him of wagering on hockey. After utilizing Sportradar, NHL Security, and the independent firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, however, the league ultimately found Kane innocent of all claims.

NFL, Other Leagues Issue Policy Updates

The NHL is far from the only league dealing with player gambling issues. The NFL updated its betting policy earlier this year after multiple players kicked off the year serving suspensions. Now, any player caught betting on football will serve a one-year minimum suspension. Players caught betting on their own team will face a minimum suspension of two years. Game fixing, meanwhile, will earn players a lifetime ban.

When it comes to betting on other sports, athletes will face a two-game suspension for first offenses, while a subsequent violation will result in a six-game ban. Using a third party or a proxy bettor to place wagers — such as Pinto was accused of doing — will end in a minimum one-year suspension for players.

Additionally, betting during team functions or at any league facility is strictly off limits.

Alec Cunningham is a lead writer and analyst for Lineups.com. She has covered countless online sports betting and casino legislation topics and now specializes in responsible gambling and gambling addiction recovery. In 2022, she served as a panelist at the All-American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry. As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. After working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer, she returned to her love of written word in 2020. Since then, Cunningham's love of sports has led her to become a responsible gambling advocate.

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