NBA Calls For Bet-Type Restrictions After Lifetime Ban For Player

April 18, 2024
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has issued a lifetime ban to Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter for betting-related infractions, the first gambling ban issued by a major U.S. sports league in 35 years.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) issued a lifetime ban to Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter for gambling-related infractions, the first gambling ban issued by an American major league in 35 years.

The league announced Wednesday (April 17) that Porter, 24, a center for the Toronto Raptors, had disclosed confidential information to sports bettors, limited his participation in games for betting purposes and bet on NBA games through a proxy.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “There is nothing more important than protecting the integrity of NBA competition for our fans, our teams and everyone associated with our sport, which is why Jontay Porter’s blatant violations of our gaming rules are being met with the most severe punishment.” 

Silver also reiterated his concerns over bet types being offered by regulated sportsbooks in the U.S., a point he also raised during a press conference last week, and hinted that the NBA may be more active in looking to restrict certain bet types going forward.

“While legal sports betting creates transparency that helps identify suspicious or abnormal activity, this matter also raises important issues about the sufficiency of the regulatory framework currently in place, including the types of bets offered on our games and players,” Silver said.  

“Working closely with all relevant stakeholders across the industry, we will continue to work diligently to safeguard our league and game.”

Silver’s comments trail a high-profile campaign that has seen the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) successfully lobby regulators in several states to prohibit prop bets involving individual college athletes.

They are also especially notable because Silver was the first of the four major American sports commissioners to specifically advocate for regulated sports betting, calling for the regulation of sports betting in a 2014 New York Times opinion piece after decades of NBA and other major league opposition. 

The league began investigating Porter in March after sportsbooks reported suspicious betting patterns on under bets on Porter’s player propositions in two separate games, in which Porter played only several minutes before leaving with an injury or illness. 

That investigation found that Porter disclosed confidential information about his health to a known NBA bettor, and another known bettor placed an $80,000 parlay on a March 20 game on Porter’s player propositions. The bet would have paid $1.1m.

In that game, Porter played only three minutes before claiming that he was ill. The bet was frozen due to its suspicious nature and it was not paid out.

The league also said that, between January and March, Porter placed at least 13 bets using another person’s online account. The league said Porter placed just over $54,000 in bets on NBA games, ranging in size from $15 to $22,000, and ultimately collected net winnings of more than $21,000.

None of the bets Porter placed were on games in which he played, but three were parlay bets that included one Raptors game, and Porter bet in each instance that the Raptors would lose.

The NBA said the investigation remains open and may result in further findings, and that it has shared information with federal prosecutors.

Porter was a so-called “two-way player” under a contract that allows a player to be easily transferred between an NBA team's active roster and the team’s G-League minor league affiliate.

The two-way contract also comes with a significantly lower salary than the standard NBA league minimum, paying up to $559,782 if a player is under contract for the full season. By comparison, a league minimum salary for a player with a year of prior experience, as Porter had, would be $1.8m.

Porter is the first major league player to be banned for life for gambling-related offenses since Major League Baseball banned all-time hits leader Pete Rose in 1989.

In the years since, the National Football League (NFL) has suspended several players indefinitely for gambling offenses, some of whom have yet to return to the league following their suspensions, but have yet to take the step of a specified lifetime ban.

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