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NFL has no comment on application of gambling policy to Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin's July 4 party

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The NFL's gambling policy contains a specific term regarding the acceptance of hospitality or gifts by "NFL personnel" from "Gambling Entities." The language of the provision, like the rest of the policy, reads as if it was written by a lawyer, for a lawyer.

It's not clear where the line is. Which, obviously, becomes useful information for those players and other non-lawyers employed by the league and its teams who are expected to stay on the right side of it.

For Tuesday's swanky, extravagant, and exclusive party held by Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin , the league won't officially say which side of the line the party falls on. The league declined our request for comment on the matter.

Unofficially, a source with knowledge of the league's position on the matter said there is no violation for NFL personnel who attended. Per the source, it was a private party that Rubin has hosted for several years with no promotion of Fanatics or any of its businesses.

That's fine, but that's not what the policy says. “NFL Personnel may not accept a complimentary room, service, or other gift from a Gambling Entity if its value exceeds Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250),” the policy states. “Any items accepted (other than de minimis food & beverages generally offered to all patrons) must be appropriately documented and verifiable upon request. Soliciting gifts of any value is never permissible.”

The loophole apparently comes from the term “Gambling Entity.” The policy defines “Gambling Entity” as a “casino, sportsbook, or other establishment or business that offers commercial gambling.”

Assuming that Rubin paid for the party himself and not with Fanatics money, any other sports book CEO or executive could do the same thing, without the policy ever being relevant. Expensive food. Expensive drinks. Expensive entertainment. Maybe a nice little swag bag with far more than $250 worth of stuff in it.

As long as it’s all hosted by the person who runs the sports book and not the sports book, it’s apparently fine.

Obviously, the spirit of the provision could be easily violated, if this loophole is something other than a make-it-up-as-they-go reaction to something that looks and feels like a violation of the policy. As long as the gambling entity isn’t mentioned or promoted, the owner or operator of the gambling entity can give NFL personnel anything and everything. Surely, that's not the outcome the league intends.

The situation becomes thornier when considering the very real possibility that Fanatics footed the bill for the party, with the whole thing being a write-off. How would the NFL ever prove that? Would the NFL even be inclined to try?

If only players were present at the party, maybe the league would consider it. The fact that Patriots owner Robert Kraft was among the attendees makes it far less likely that the league would ever do anything about it.

And that’s quite possibly the bottom line here. Rubin’s party wasn’t a potential problem until his company launched a sports book. Someone at 345 Park Avenue might had an “oh shit” moment when considering the application of the relevant portion of the policy to the party. If only players were there, maybe they would hammer them. With an owner there, maybe they came up with a way to quietly look the other way.

Meanwhile, the policy is on the books as written, and no one is in any better position to understand how to avoid violating it.

That's ultimately what we were trying to do. It's how we explained it to the league. Lots of people in the league read PFT regularly, if not religiously. This would be a great way to help them understand what the policy means regarding hospitality and gifts.

Instead, you're on your own, players. Proceed at your own risk.

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