Wednesday, June 19, 2024

NBA player gets lifetime ban for gambling on basketball games

Must read

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

The National Basketball Association has banned a player for life for gambling on the sport, the first time the league has handed down the maximum penalty since legal sports wagering began in the US.

An investigation by the league found that Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors had wagered on basketball games and liaised with at least one bettor to fix his own performance. According to a statement by the league on Wednesday, Porter disclosed confidential information about his own health and limited his participation in a game on March 20, the same date that an acquaintance of Porter’s placed an $80,000 wager that he would underperform in that game.

Porter’s banishment is among the most severe sanctions handed down after a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal ban on sports wagering, paving the way for states to legalise it. While consumer sports betting is now legal in 38 states and the District of Columbia, professional leagues largely prohibit players and personnel from wagering, particularly on their own sports.

Since 2018, the National Football League has suspended a handful of players for wagering on its games. Last month, Major League Baseball initiated an investigation into star player Shohei Ohtani and his former translator, Ippei Mizuhara, amid allegations of illegal wagering. The US Department of Justice last week charged Mizuhara with bank fraud, describing Ohtani as a victim in the case and alleging that his former interpreter had wired $16mn from Ohtani’s accounts to cover gambling debts.

The NBA said the Porter investigation is ongoing and it will “continue to share information with federal prosecutors about this matter”.

“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,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

An agent for Porter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NBA and other leagues are seeking to maintain the integrity of play amid the growing influence of sports wagering. Legal sports wagering revenues reached $10.9bn in 2023, up more than 44 per cent from 2022, the fastest-growing segment of the US gambling industry, according to the American Gaming Association. 

Porter is the first NBA player to face a life-long ban for gambling since the 2018 ruling, though the league had previously banned players for wagering while the practice was largely illegal.

Porter, a power forward who played 26 games this season for the Raptors, is the brother of Michael Porter Jr of the reigning champion Denver Nuggets. According to the NBA, Porter wagered about $54,000 across 13 bets on NBA games from January through March of this year.

Additionally, three of the bets made by Porter were “multi-game parlay bets that included one Raptors game, in which Porter bet that the Raptors would lose”, according to the NBA. “All three bets lost.”

Latest article