NBA bans Raptors' Jontay Porter for gambling violations

The NBA has banned Toronto two-way player Jontay Porter after a league investigation concluded that he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and wagered on games

by Sededin Dedovic
NBA bans Raptors' Jontay Porter for gambling violations
© Raptors Nation / Youtube channel

The sports world has undergone a seismic shift in recent years, with the legalization of gambling in many US states. This had a profound impact on the NBA, creating a complex relationship full of potential benefits and serious concerns.

Gone are the days when gambling was a taboo subject in professional sports. The NBA has enthusiastically embraced legalized betting, seeing it as a significant source of revenue. Industry experts estimate that the NBA could earn over $167 million from casinos and sports betting this year, a significant increase over the previous season.

This financial gain is evident in the league's media partnerships, with ESPN launching its own sportsbook, ESPNBET, and prominent betting ads appearing during NBA broadcasts. The NBA has taken decisive action against Toronto two-way player Jontay Porter after a thorough investigation revealed his violation of league rules.

Porter was banned after he was found to have disclosed confidential information to individuals involved in sports betting and placed bets on games as reported by The Guardian. It is suspected that he made a lot of money this way, but in the end he will surely regret it.

In a statement released Wednesday, the league revealed that Porter shared sensitive details about his medical status with a person known to bet before the March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings. After that, another individual, also identified as the bookie, placed an $80,000 bet through an online bookmaker, aiming to win $1.1 million by betting on Porter's poor performance in the game.

During the Sacramento Kings game, Porter played just three minutes, citing illness as the reason for his limited participation. Suspicious betting activity and Porter's actions resulted in the bet being frozen, preventing any payout.

DeAaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings drives against Ochai Agbaji #30 and Gradey Dick #1 of the Toronto Raptors during the firs© Mark Blinch / Getty Images

The NBA has been alerted to illegal betting by licensed sports betting operators and a watchdog that oversees legal betting markets.

Furthermore, the league found that Porter, the brother of Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., placed a minimum of 13 bets on NBA games between January and March while traveling with either the Raptors or their G-League affiliate.

These bets varied in size, ranging from $15 to $22,000, accumulating to a total of $54,904. The combined winnings from these bets were $76,059, resulting in a net profit of $21,965. Notably, none of these bets were on games in which Porter participated.

Jontay Porter #11 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors push on Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fir© Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

According to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, "Preserving the integrity of the NBA competition is of the utmost importance to our fans, teams and all stakeholders.

Jontay Porter's egregious violation of our game rules warrants serious consequences." Silver also highlighted the need for continued evaluation of the regulatory framework, particularly regarding the types of bets offered on NBA games and players.

He emphasized efforts to work with industry stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the league and its games. However, this newfound source of income comes with a hefty price tag. Critics argue that the NBA's close ties to gambling companies create a conflict of interest.

Broadcasters who promote betting while covering games raise questions of impartiality. A constant barrage of gambling ads could exacerbate problem gambling, a serious problem affecting millions of Americans. The National Council on Problem Gambling reports a 30% increase in the risk of gambling addiction between 2018 and 2021, ubiquitous betting ads are unlikely to help this trend.

Ethical concerns extend beyond fans. Former NBA players like Rex Chapman have spoken openly about their struggles with gambling addiction. The readily available opportunity to bet on games places players in dangerous temptation, potentially affecting their performance or even leading to match-fixing scandals.

The recent investigation of Jontay Porter, who allegedly bet on an NBA game while playing for the Raptors, is just one example as many others continue to commit such "violations". Player mental health is another key aspect that is often overshadowed by financial considerations.

Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, who is seeking professional help for feeling like a "prop" for bookies, is stressing the psychological toll. Coaches are also not immune. Cleveland Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff received a threat from disgruntled gamblers, highlighting the potential dangers associated with the NBA's gambling ties.

In the future, it is necessary to systematically regulate this problem, not only in the NBA but in sports as a whole. The NBA can look to international examples for guidance. The English Premier League's decision to ban gambling sponsors on team shirts from 2026 onwards offers a cautionary tale.

The NBA should be prepared to implement similar measures if addiction and scandals become rampant. Striking a balance between revenue and responsibility is crucial to ensure the NBA's future success and maintain its status as a premier sporting league.