They'll have to wait until after the game to hit the tables if they so chose. That's according to a Sept. 29 memo that updated the NFL's ever-evolving gambling policy. The memo outlined a separate set of rules for players traveling to play and players traveling on their personal time.
What the NFL says about players gambling in Las Vegas
The memo carries additional relevance with Las Vegas set to host the Super Bowl for the first time on Feb. 11. Per the memo obtained by the Washington Post, Chiefs and 49ers players will be prohibited from gambling of any kind in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
"You may not engage in any form of Gambling in any club or League facility at any time (e.g., practice facility, stadium, office) or while traveling with your Club (e.g., on a team plane or in a team hotel) to participate in an NFL game (preseason, regular or postseason) or in-season team activity (e.g., joint practice),” the memo states.
Players for teams other than the Chiefs or 49ers who are in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl will be allowed to gamble at their leisure, as long as they're not betting on the game.
"You may engage in legal gambling (but not on NFL football) on personal time while traveling for League or club events (e.g., ‘Tentpole’ events such as Draft, Pro Bowl or Super Bowl) other than for participation in your Club’s game or in-season team activity (e.g., joint practice) and unless otherwise prohibited by your employing Club,” the memo states.
In fact, sports books in general are off-limits, unless you're just passing through. But it's probably best for players to take the long route to make it to their dinner reservations, no matter how circuitous the casino labyrinth might be.
“You may not enter a sportsbook during the NFL playing season (Hall of Fame Game through Super Bowl), except to access an area outside of a sportsbook (e.g., you may pass through a sportsbook where necessary to access a separate area of the entertainment, casino, or hotel complex), the memo continues.”
What happens if players break the rules
It's not clear from the reporting what the penalty is if a Chiefs or 49ers player gives in to the temptation to hit the slots or tables. The penalty for betting on games is clearer. First-time offenders betting on non-NFL games are subject to a two-game suspension without pay. Whether that would apply immediately to the Super Bowl is not clear.
First-time offenders found to have bet on NFL games will be subject to an indefinite suspension with a minimum of one year. This would apply to non-49ers and non-Chiefs players. Given that there's only one game remaining to bet on, Chiefs or 49ers players making NFL bets would amount to an enormous scandal.
Players found to have bet on their own team's games are subject to a minimum two-year suspension. This, of course, would raise the specter of game-fixing, a penalty that comes with a lifetime banishment from the NFL in addition to whatever legal woes might follow.
NFL's complicated embrace of sports betting
These rules are in place as part of the NFL's about-face on gambling in light of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that opened the door for legalized sports betting nationwide. That ruling in turn opened the door to lucrative opportunities for the NFL and its partners to add to their bottom lines.
The NFL has since openly embraced sports betting and Las Vegas, a stance that cleared the path for the Raiders to move from Oakland to Nevada. But this embrace of betting doesn't involve player participation, and the league has repeatedly updated its rules on the subject while doling out multiple suspensions to those who violate them.
For Super Bowl week, the NFL is looking to limit the temptation for Chiefs and 49ers players. Neither team will be staying near the Las Vegas Strip. Both teams will stay at hotels near Lake Las Vegas, roughly 25 miles from the action.