Senators' Shane Pinto suspended 41 games over sports betting violation

Shane Pinto is the first player in modern league history to be suspended for sports betting related activities.

Shane Pinto has been suspended 41 games due to sports betting related activities. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Shane Pinto has been suspended 41 games due to sports betting related activities. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto has been suspended 41 games for activities relating to sports wagering, the NHL announced on Thursday.

The NHL didn't divulge the details of Pinto's transgression, but stated they found no evidence he wagered on NHL games, as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman first reported earlier on Thursday.

Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garricoh reported that Pinto’s online U.S gambling account was flagged by a company that’s partnered with the NHL for unusual activity.

Friedman reports that an investigation into the matter dates back to sometime in the summer and intensified over the last few weeks when the league conducted a hearing into the matter. During a mini-episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Friedman said he believes the process ramped up around the time when Pinto left the Ottawa area — where fans spotted him skating on his own — and returned home. In hindsight, the fact Pinto left Ottawa was odd considering the reports around that time suggesting Ottawa was working the phones to offload cap space — with Mathieu Joseph widely believed to be the player being shipped elsewhere — to sign Pinto, who remains without a contract for this season.

“Suddenly it became clear to everyone involved here that there was something the NHL was investigating and it was serious enough that I believe everyone was just told to hang on,” Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts Podcast.

According to Friedman, the league sent a memo in March 2022 to league and team personnel that stated NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is authorized to “discipline individuals determined to have engaged in improper gambling activities," which could include expulsion or suspension for a definite or indefinite period; cancelling any contract that such individual may have; and/or by imposing a fine.

“Shane is a valued member of our hockey club; an engaging, intelligent young man who made poor decisions that have resulted in a suspension by the National Hockey League,” the Senators said in a statement on Thursday. “We know he is remorseful for his mistakes.”

Pinto, 22, is coming off a 20-goal, 35-point campaign with the Senators last season. For a while, it appeared the only thing holding up a contract extension was the fact that Ottawa had less than $50,000 in cap space at their disposal.

“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family,” a statement from Pinto read in the aforementioned release. “I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

While we may have to wait a bit to uncover the specifics of Pinto’s actions, it should be noted that other professional leagues – like the NFL – have disciplined players for betting on sports games in a different league. For example, Tennessee Titans lineman Nicholas Petit-Fere received a six-game suspension in June for placing a legal bet at the team’s facility – a clear violation of NFL rules.

It’s safe to say that Pinto would face a much harsher penalty if he actually bet one NHL games. Jacksonville Jaguars Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season for betting on NFL games.

The last NHL players to be suspended for gambling were Billy Taylor, Don Gallinger and Babe Pratt in the 1940s.