NBA bans Jontay Porter for violating gambling policy, betting on games

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The NBA banned Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter on Wednesday for violating the league’s policies on gambling and for betting on games following an investigation of unusual bets placed on his performance.

Porter, 24, was sidelined by the Raptors in March following two instances in which he left games early under unusual circumstances. During the Raptors’ Jan. 26 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and a March 20 defeat to the Sacramento Kings, Porter played limited minutes before exiting with minor ailments. In both cases, gamblers who wagered that Porter’s individual statistics would go under the established betting lines were in position to win their bets.

The NBA’s investigation found Porter “[disclosed] confidential information to sports bettors, limit[ed] his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and [bet] on NBA games.”

Porter revealed private details “about his own health status” to a bettor before the March 20 game, the league said in a statement. Following that revelation, another Porter associate placed an $80,000 bet on Porter to “underperform in the March 20 game” with an online sportsbook in hopes of winning $1.1 million.

Porter logged just three minutes against the Kings before leaving with an illness, finishing with no points, two rebounds and no assists. In light of the “unusual betting activity,” the online sportsbook froze the bet and did not pay out the winnings, the league said.

The NBA’s investigation also discovered Porter placed “at least 13 bets” through an associate’s account during the 2023-24 season, which he spent with the Raptors and their G League affiliate. Porter wagered $54,094 and earned $21,965 in winnings. While he didn’t bet on any games in which he played, the NBA said Porter did place three multigame parlay bets that included one Raptors game, in which Porter bet on the Raptors to lose. Porter’s bets that included the Raptors were unsuccessful.

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

The National Basketball Players Association also issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging Porter’s ban.

“Adherence to league gambling policies is paramount to maintaining the integrity of our athletes and protecting the future of the sport,” the union said. “The NBPA will make sure Jontay has access to the resources he needs during this time, in light of the NBA’s decision. All players, including Jontay, should be afforded appropriate due process and opportunity to answer to any charges brought against them. The NBPA will continue to provide all players with training materials to ensure they understand how to properly navigate the complex sports betting landscape.”

The Raptors, who finished the season outside the playoffs with a 25-57 record, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NBA, which has advocated for the expansion of legalized sports betting and has established business partnerships with gambling companies during Silver’s 10-year tenure as commissioner, has avoided a major gambling scandal since referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to federal charges after betting on games he officiated during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

League rules prohibit all employees, including players, coaches and referees, from gambling on NBA games. Violators of the policy are subject to fines, suspensions and contract termination. The NBA fined Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert $100,000 last month for suggesting the league’s referees were influenced by gamblers.

Porter, a University of Missouri product, went undrafted in 2019, played 11 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020-21 and spent multiple seasons in the G League before signing a two-way contact with the Raptors in December. He is the younger brother of Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Before his ban, Porter was not under contract for next season.

The NBA’s investigation became public on the same day Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani denied involvement in a gambling scandal surrounding Ippei Mizuhara, the baseball player’s former interpreter. Mizuhara allegedly lost millions placing bets with a bookmaker in California, where sports gambling is illegal, and allegedly stole money from Ohtani to pay his debts.

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