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Ottawa's Shane Pinto: First Modern NHL Player Suspended for Gambling

NHL suspends Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for 41 games, making him the first modern-day hockey player banned for sports gambling.

The NHL has suspended Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for 41 games due to his involvement in sports gambling. This makes Pinto the first modern-day hockey player to be banned for this offense. The league stated that the suspension was for "activities relating to sports wagering," but clarified that there was no evidence of Pinto betting on NHL games. The specific details of Pinto's actions and how he was caught have not been released.

In a statement released by the team, Pinto expressed his remorse and took full responsibility for his actions. He apologized to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, his teammates, the fans, the city of Ottawa, and most importantly, his family. He also expressed his eagerness to return to the ice with his team once the suspension is over.

Pinto has chosen not to appeal the suspension, as part of an agreement between the league, the player, and the NHL Players' Association to resolve the situation. The NHL considers the matter closed, unless new information arises.

The Senators' coach, D.J. Smith, assured reporters that the team would support Pinto and welcome him back when he becomes eligible to return. This would be in the middle of the current season, once Pinto signs a contract. At the moment, he is an unsigned restricted free agent, and this suspension sheds light on the reason for the delay in reaching a deal.

The Ottawa Senators released a statement expressing their support for Pinto. They described him as a valued member of the team and acknowledged his remorse for his mistakes. The organization fully supports the NHL's rules on gambling and is committed to helping Pinto address his issues and become a strong contributor to their community.

Pinto's suspension adds to the growing list of professional athletes who have been banned for gambling since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports wagering in 2018. In the NFL alone, at least 10 players have recently been suspended for gambling, with receiver Calvin Ridley notably missing the entire 2022 season for betting on games. The NBA and Major League Baseball have not announced any recent gambling punishments, but the issue is becoming a concern in college sports as well.

Since the Supreme Court decision, it is estimated that Americans have wagered over $220 billion on sports in the first five years. The NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement strictly prohibits gambling on any NHL game. NHL teams can even go as far as prohibiting their employees, from both hockey operations and the business side, from participating in fantasy leagues for money.

Interestingly, the Ottawa Senators became the first team to have a gambling-related entity as a helmet sponsor in 2021. The team's home helmets now display the logo of Betway, an international gambling company.

It's worth noting that Pinto's suspension marks the first time since the 1940s that NHL players have been suspended for gambling. The last players to face such a suspension were Billy Taylor, Don Gallinger, and Babe Pratt.

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