ESPN has released sports betting guidelines for employees at the company ahead of the launch of ESPN Bet on November 14th. The development comes shortly after the platform received a go-ahead to launch in Massachusetts by the Gaming Commission, with the requirement of more information about how personalities on the ESPN network are allowed to discuss wagering with their audience.
The employee guidelines were published on Friday, and aim to define "prohibited betting activities clearly and serve as a reference to ensure compliance." The rules attempt to assuage concerns about collaboration between editorial and betting teams.
ESPN notes that it will enable the company to terminate if any employee violates the terms. It also said that no employee covering or working on the business side with any sports league will be permitted to wager with that sports league.
"Do not place bets on games or events you are assigned to work or cover," the guidelines read. "For example, production personnel or journalists working on-site or off-site at or on a sporting event must abstain from betting on that particular game or event. Talent designated as Reporters and Insiders are prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet on the properties (e.g., NFL, college football, NBA) they regularly cover."
The guidelines further note that employees cannot withhold any insider information and act on it for gambling purposes. In addition, employees are not permitted to wager on awards and other markets that are determined by off-field metrics.
"Employees who learn Confidential Information from Reporters or Insiders should never use such information for betting-related purposes. If there is any chance you have relevant Confidential Information, do not wager on awards votes (e.g., MVP, Cy Young), player personnel decisions (e.g., “Which team will Player X sign with?”), draft selections (e.g., “Who will be the first WR chosen in the NFL Draft?”) or other similar types of bets," the guidelines read.
"Be extra cautious about certain types of bets. Certain types of bets are more susceptible to the influence of Confidential Information because the outcomes are primarily determined by off-field decisions rather than on-field play."
The prohibited betting activities include using, disclosing, or providing access to non-public information that the employee has been exposed to as part of their job for any betting-related purposes, including influencing others to place bets or disclosing such information to any sportsbook operator.
"This includes but is not limited to (a) a player’s injury status or participation in a game or event; or (b) any other information about officials, players, coaches, or management," the guidelines said.
Further, employees are not permitted to have proxy bettors— akin to professional athletes, who are suspended just the same if they are found to have instructed a third party to place a wager for them.
To uphold journalistic integrity, ESPN says that no story should be reported, delayed, influenced, or withheld with the intention of impacting betting lines. It further directs its employees to observe the strict boundaries that the company maintains between its journalistic enterprise and the operations of a sportsbook.
The company strongly discourages employees from engaging in any betting-related activities that could call into question their or the company’s integrity, or otherwise create actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
"No illegal gambling. Employees are strictly prohibited from participating in or facilitating any form of illegal sports betting, including underage betting. Sports betting remains illegal in many states and jurisdictions," the guidelines directed.