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NBA bans Jontay Porter for life for gambling

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I suspect that unfortunately we’re talking tip of the iceberg stuff here:

The NBA issued a lifetime ban to Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter on Wednesday for violating league gambling rules. The league’s investigation found Porter guilty of “disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, limiting his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and betting on NBA games.” The league’s probe is ongoing, but it was initially launched due to irregularities surrounding prop bets based on his statistics. 

The brewing scandal is the latest in a series of sports gambling controversies that have arisen of late. In the last month alone, Major League Baseball has dealt with betting issues involving Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter, while gambling watchdog company U.S. Integrity is investigating the Temple University men’s basketball team due to “suspicious betting activity.”

But the Porter situation, pending the results of the full investigation, has a chance to spiral into one of the worst sports betting scandals since legalization began to spread in 2018. The NBA is still investigating the integrity of games Porter himself participated in. The league’s report, released Wednesday, centered around the Raptors’ game against the Sacramento Kings on March 20, where Porter “disclosed confidential information about his own health status” to someone he knew was a bettor. Another bettor then wagered $80,000 on a parlay bet that would have won $1.1 million if Porter hit the under on his player props. Porter subsequently removed himself from that game after less than three minutes due to illness. 

Due to the unusual activity, the bet was frozen and never paid out. Licensed sports betting operators brought the suspicious bets to the NBA’s attention, which sparked the league’s investigation.

As discussed in the context of the Ohtani situation, when you can make literally dozens of live action prop bets in the course of a single game from the comfort of your smartphone, the potential for corruption is essentially unlimited. Jontay Porter’s brother is Denver star Michael Porter, Jr., which is way too close for comfort for this particular fan, but of course a marginal player like Jontay is a much more promising target for people trying to rig action than a max contract star like his brother, who has literally hundreds of millions of dollars to lose.

We see the same dynamic in tennis, where the matches that get rigged involve minor league players ranked far outside the ATP level, who play matches in front of 17 people and can’t even cover their expenses with their winnings. That you can bet big money on such matches is an indication of how out of control all this is getting. As is the fact that NBA TV broadcasts on local cable channels feature discussion of the live odds by the commentators, which still shocks somebody who is old enough to remember when you weren’t even allowed to mention on a broadcast that people bet on sports.

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