NBA bars Jontay Porter for betting, league’s first gambling ban for player in 70 years

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday handed down the league’s harshest sanction for gambling in decades, banning Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter from the league for what he called a “sin capital” consisting of betting on league matches and sharing inside information.

The league said Porter, who spent part of his time in the NBA and part in its developmental G League, privately told a sports bettor he was injured, pulled out of a game to control prop bets on its own game and had placed its own bets on NBA games.

Mark Bartelstein, Porter’s agent, did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Porter is the first active player or coach to be kicked out of the NBA for gambling since Jack Molinas in 1954. Most recently, Silver handed out a significant drug suspension to OJ Mayo in 2016, which effectively kept him out of the league , and he banned the Clippers. owner Donald Sterling in 2014 and forced him to sell the team for making racist comments.

According to the results of a league investigation, Porter, 24, allegedly gave confidential health information to a person he knew as a sports bettor before the Raptors’ March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings. A third person, related to both Porter and the original recipient of Porter’s health information, placed an $80,000 bet to win $1.1 million, a bet that relied on the prediction that Porter would under -would perform against the Kings.

To ensure the gamble was successful, the league found, Porter withdrew from that Kings game after just three minutes, claiming he was ill.

The investigation also showed that from January to March, while splitting games between Toronto and its G League affiliate, Raptors 905, Porter placed at least 13 bets on NBA games using the betting account in line of an associate. Although none of these bets were on games Porter played in, he did bet on the Raptors losing as part of a parlay bet. The bets ranged from $15 to $22,000, and totaled $54,000. He took home nearly $22,000 in betting winnings, the league said.

“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 playing rules are met with the most severe punishment,” Silver said. A declaration. “While legal sports betting creates transparency that helps identify suspicious or anomalous activity, this issue also raises important questions about the sufficiency of the regulatory framework currently in place, including the types of bets offered on our games and our players.

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

Porter is the first player to be punished for violating NBA gambling policies since the proliferation of legal sports betting in the United States became a significant source of revenue for the league. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that any state could pass laws to legalize sports betting, the NBA (along with other U.S. professional leagues, like the NFL, MLB, PGA and the NHL) have vigorously enforced laws and business agreements with sportsbooks to make money from bets placed on their games.

“Today, the NBA permanently disqualified Jontay Porter for violating the league’s playing rules,” the National Basketball Players Association said in a statement. “The NBPA will ensure that Jontay has access to the resources he needs during this time, in light of the NBA’s decision. All players, including Jontay, should be given proper due process and the opportunity to respond to any accusations made against them.

The NBA has multiple commercial deals with major betting brands like DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, and several of its teams host sportsbooks in their arenas in which they receive a percentage of the handle, which corresponds to the amount of money wagered .

Under Silver, the NBA (along with the other professional leagues) petitioned Congress for federal sports betting legislation, but numerous lobbying efforts were unsuccessful. Today, sports betting is legal and regulated in 38 states, plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

In recent months, several NBA players and coaches have reported being heckled — both at games and on social media — by fans upset about losing bets. Cleveland Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff said he received threatening messages on his personal cell phone from punters referencing his children and his address in suburban Cleveland.

Fans can often place bets in arenas, either on their phones or at a physical sportsbook. They can bet not only on winners and losers, but also on individual performances via prop bets, such as how many 3-pointers a player will make in a particular game.

The $80,000 bet on Porter is what sparked the NBA’s investigation into his behavior. The bet, placed with an online sportsbook, was not paid and the sportsbook informed the league of the suspicious betting activity as well as Porter’s playing time during that March 20 game.

The NBA later discovered that Porter was betting on the NBA, which is against the league’s rules regarding its players and team personnel. Porter, who is the brother of Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr., was making $415,000 on his two-way contract with the Raptors this season.

In 1993, the NBA investigated its most famous player, Michael Jordan, for his ties to at least one player, to whom he paid $57,000 to settle a bet resulting from a round of golf. According to reports, the league determined that Jordan did not bet on NBA games and did not violate any league rules.

In 2007, then-NBA official Tim Donaghy was caught betting on games in which he was officiating. He was suspended and resigned and served 11 months of a 15-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to two charges related to his gambling scheme.

Pete Rose, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, accepted a lifetime ban from then-Major League Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on games, including his own team, the Cincinnati Reds. One difference between Rose’s and Porter’s alleged bets: Rose bet on the Reds winning.

Most recently, the NFL suspended several players for betting on football games as legalized sports betting spread across the country. The most famous suspended player, Calvin Ridley, was banned for the 2022 season for betting on football in 2021 while he was away from his team, the Atlanta Falcons, due to mental health reasons.

In 2023 alone, the NFL suspended Quintez Cephus, CJ Moore, Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill from the Detroit Lions; Isaiah Rodgers Sr. Rashod Berry and Demetrius Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts, Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders, Nicholas Petit-Frere of the Tennessee Titans and Eyioma Uwazurike of the Denver Broncos for varying lengths due to game infractions.

Hunter Patterson contributed to this story.

(Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

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