Sports Betting Addiction Fueled Jaguars Employee’s $22M Fraud Scheme, Attorney Says

Sports Betting Addiction Fueled Jaguars Employee’s $22M Fraud Scheme, Attorney Says article feature image

Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: A Jacksonville Jaguars helmet sits on the field.

A now former employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars was charged with a scheme that funneled more than $22 million from the organization. Now his lawyer says his client, Amit Patel, did so because of a gambling addiction.

"Mr. Patel used VCC funds to gamble on Daily Fantasy Sports, the vast majority of which was done on FanDuel, and a significant portion on DraftKings," attorney Alex King said in a statement Thursday. "Approximately 99% of the funds misappropriated from the Jaguars’ VCC were gambling losses, almost all of which occurred on those two websites."

King notes that Patel plans to plead guilty to the federal charges against him and added that his "serious gambling addiction does not excuse his actions, which he takes full responsibility for."

The charges stem from an alleged plot engineered by Patel to use the team's Virtual Credit Card (VCC) program to make personal transactions, including a condominium in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, private jets, luxury hotel stays, cars and watches dating back to 2019, according to a court filing. Patel was previously the manager of financial planning and analysis for Jacksonville and used his position to orchestrate the scheme. He ended his stint at the Jaguars in Feb. 2023.

The claim that Patel used the money to gamble on sports is yet another blow to the NFL, which has been plagued with gambling scandals all year. The NFL suspended 10 players across the league for betting related violations this year, including seven players who bet on the NFL.

NFL players are allowed to gamble on other sports leagues, if they so choose. Team employees, coaches and staff are unable to bet on sports at all. All of those parties are barred from wagering on the NFL in any way, shape or form.

Ahead of the season opener, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about his feelings on the league's gambling issues and remarked that "it's one of the reasons we opposed legalized sports betting, because of the risk to the integrity of the game. So that's always going to be our No. 1 priority."

"This isn't just about players," he continued. "It affects every league employee, every club employee. It's pretty simple. If you bet on the NFL, and you're a part of the NFL, you've got a problem."

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