Genius Sports, Hard Rock Had Parts In NFL Ridley Investigation

Home » Genius Sports, Hard Rock Had Parts In NFL Ridley Investigation

Posted on: March 8, 2022, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: March 8, 2022, 10:01h.

On Monday, the NFL announced Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is suspended for at least the 2022 season for placing wagers on league games, including at least one involving his team. In the aftermath of that news, it appears both a data provider and a gaming company played parts in assisting the NFL in its investigation.

Genius Sports
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended by the NFL for betting. Hard Rock and Genius Sports helped the league assemble its case. (Image: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Reports surfaced Monday that Ridley placed wagers involving NFL games in Florida using Hard Rock International mobile app. Later, Genius Sports (NYSE:GENI), the league’s exclusive betting data provider, corroborated that information.

As the NFL has more widely embraced regulated sports wagering as both a money maker for the league and individual teams, allowing a franchise to move to Las Vegas, sportsbooks in some stadiums and ads by sportsbook operators during game broadcasts, it also made clear it’s taking a hard stance against wagering by players and team personnel and that it will leverage relationships with partners such as Genius Sports to catch offenders.

Ridley’s suspension is indefinite, though he has three days to appeal to the decision and if he’s unsuccessful with that effort, he can apply for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2023.

Twist of Fate with Hard Rock

The NFL notes Ridley, 27, placed bets during a five-day span last November when he was away from the Falcons and on the non-football illness list.

In an interesting twist of fate, the player made his bets during a brief period in which Hard Rock offered mobile sports betting in Florida. The tribal gaming giant launched its mobile betting app on Nov. 1, 2021, but three weeks later, vacated the pact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, which controls Hard Rock. The tribe continued taking mobile bets while it appealed that ruling, but it ultimately pulled the sportsbook app on Dec. 4, 2021.

Reports emerged Monday indicating Ridley placed three-, five- and eight-game parlays with at least one leg of one of those wagers including the Falcons. It’s believed he didn’t bet against his team.

The former first-round pick took took to Twitter to admit his wrongdoing, noting he bet just $1,500 and that he doesn’t have a gambling problem.

Genius Role

Last April, Genius Sports reportedly paid $1 billion to become the NFL’s wagering data provider, swiping a deal that previously belonged to rival Sportradar.

Integrity of the game is at the center of all the NFL’s legalized sports betting ventures, and Genius will support the NFL’s efforts through comprehensive integrity services to monitor betting across all NFL games (preseason, regular season, and postseason) and tentpole events,” according to a statement Genius issued at the time. “The NFL and its Clubs will also have access to Genius’ integrity education programs to ensure the continuation of the NFL’s high standard for integrity.”

The league also took an equity stake in Genius valued at $446.6 million last April, but the stock has tumbled since then.

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