NBA Protects Integrity Of Sport With Lifetime Ban Of Raptors’ Jontay Porter

Written By Corey Sharp on April 18, 2024
Basketball player blocks a dunk attempt. Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors has been banned from the NBA for life for sports betting violations.

Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter committed the cardinal sin, as commissioner Adam Silver put it, by betting on his own team and limiting his participation for others to profit. Silver enforced a lifetime ban on Porter to ensure the integrity of the game.

The day sports betting became legal in markets across the world, including Ontario, situations such as Porter’s were inevitable. While these incidents aren’t good and hopefully kept to a minimum, the response from the higher-ups is what matters. Silver issuing a lifetime ban is hopefully a wake-up call for others in sports.

Integrity of sports is most important when addressing betting scandals

Porter played parts of two seasons in the NBA. Before playing in 26 games for the Raptors this season, Porter had not suited up in the league since 2020-21. The 25-year-old threw away any remaining future he had in the game by gambling.

While Porter was not a prominent player in the NBA, fans could still wager his props on Ontario online sportsbooks. Other players in sports have gambled on games, and even their own teams, but no scandal was as egregious as Porter’s.

According to a press release from the NBA, Porter placed at least 13 bets on NBA games from January to March, totaling $54,094 and net winnings of $21,965. Porter had also disclosed confidential knowledge of his own health status to an NBA bettor. He also left a game early on March 20, claiming he felt ill, enabling a bettor to try to place an $80,000 parlay involving Porter’s under props.

Legal sportsbooks instrumental in Porter being caught

For those decrying the proliferation of legal sports betting as a major part of Porter’s story, it’s important to note that regulated sportsbooks did their job and alerted authorities when they noticed suspicious betting — particularly that $80,000 parlay bet that was placed through DraftKings.

Illegal sports betting went on long before sports betting became legal in Ontario and elsewwhere — the Black Sox scandal of 1919 is a major example. And sports betting will go on for the foreseeable future. There is no guarantee Porter would have been caught and banned if the bets had been made illegally.

Porter isn’t the first and won’t be the last

And, Porter isn’t the first professional athlete to bet on sports, and he won’t be the last.

Yet, Silver did the right thing and told fans in a statement that he won’t tolerate scandals such as Porter’s.

“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 said.

He stressed the commitment the NBA, along with other professional sports, made to fans since it started partnering with sportsbooks. Silver’s strong words are a reminder that the integrity of sports is still intact, and the NBA is going to do everything in its power to keep it that way.

Unlike the NHL, which has never provided any details as to why it suspended Shane Pinto for 41 games to start the current season for violating the league’s gambling policy, the NBA deserves kudos for the transparency and speed for which it dealt with Porter.

Other leagues should follow the NBA’s lead

Silver and the NBA told the rest of the sports world that there is no place for players who are gambling on their own sport, and limiting their own participation for the benefit of other bettors.

There have already been multiple investigations in 2024 alone, involving player-related gambling. Those scandals include Temple University men’s basketball and Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani.

Temple’s scandal has not yet come to a resolution over suspicious activity that took place in its game vs. UAB on March 8. An investigation led to Ohtani being a victim in a gambling scheme conducted by his interpreter, who stole more than $16 million from the Dodgers’ superstar, and wired over $4.5 million to a sportsbook from Ohtani’s account.

The NFL has had its share of players gambling, suspending 11 players since 2019, most notably, Calvin Ridley, for the entire 2022 season.

Ridley, along with other players such as Isaiah Rodgers, Rashod Berry and Demetrius Taylor have each received the severest punishments in the NFL, each getting one-year bans.

The NBA certainly took a stand with banning Porter from the NBA for life. Should other leagues do the same to protect the integrity of of their game?

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