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NBA bans Jontay Porter after gambling probe shows he shared information, bet on games

Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter (right) pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in an NBA game on March 11 in Denver. On Wednesday, the NBA banned Porter after a league probe found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and bet on games.
David Zalubowski
Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter (right) pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic defends in an NBA game on March 11 in Denver. On Wednesday, the NBA banned Porter after a league probe found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and bet on games.

Updated April 17, 2024 at 1:19 PM ET

Toronto Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter was banned for life from the NBA on Wednesday after a league probe found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and wagered on games, even betting on the Raptors to lose.

Porter is the second person to be banned by Commissioner Adam Silver for violating league rules. The other was now-former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014, shortly after Silver took office.

In making the announcement, Silver called Porter's actions "blatant."

"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.

The investigation started once the league learned from "licensed sports betting operators and an organization that monitors legal betting markets" about unusual gambling patterns surrounding Porter's performance in a game on March 20 against Sacramento. The league determined that Porter gave a bettor information about his own health status prior that game and said that another individual — known to be an NBA bettor — placed an $80,000 bet that Porter would not hit the numbers set for him in parlays through an online sports book. That bet would have won $1.1 million.

Porter took himself out of that game after less than three minutes, claiming illness, none of his stats meeting the totals set in the parlay. The $80,000 bet was frozen and not paid out, the league said, and the NBA started an investigation not long afterward.

The NBA has strict rules against players betting

The league has partnerships and other relationships with more than two dozen gaming companies, many of whom advertise during NBA games in a variety of ways. Silver himself has been a longtime proponent of legal sports wagering, but the league has very strict rules for players and employees regarding betting.

And what Porter was found to have done was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states: "Any Player who, directly or indirectly, wagers money or anything of value on any game or event in the Association or in the NBA G League shall, on being charged with such wagering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice, and the decision of the Commissioner shall be final, binding, and conclusive and unappealable."

Silver cautioned last week that this move was possible, saying what Porter was accused of represented "cardinal sin" in the NBA. Porter has not commented since the investigation began, and never played for the Raptors again — he was listed as out for all of Toronto's games for the remainder of the season citing personal reasons.

The NBA found that Porter placed at least 13 bets on games

The league also determined that Porter — the brother of Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. — placed at least 13 bets on NBA games using someone else's betting account. The bets ranged from $15 to $22,000; the total wagered was $54,094 and generated a payout of $76,059, or net winnings of $21,965.

Those wagers did not involve any game in which Porter played, the NBA said. But three of the wagers were multi-game parlays, including a bet where Porter — who was not playing in the games involved — wagered on the Raptors to lose. All three of those bets lost.

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

The 24-year-old Porter averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26 games, including five starts. He also played in 11 games for Memphis in the 2020-21 season.

ESPN first reported the investigation, which it said surrounded Porter's performance in games on Jan. 26 and March 20. In both games, Porter played briefly before leaving citing injury or illness. Porter played 4 minutes, 24 seconds against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of those games, then 2:43 against Sacramento in the second game.

In both of those games, Porter did not come close to hitting the prop-wager lines for points, rebounds and 3-pointers that bettors could play at some sportsbooks. For example, one set of prop wagers for Porter for the Clippers game was set at 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists; he finished with no points, three rebounds and one assist. For the Kings game, they were around 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds; Porter finished that game with no points and two rebounds.

The league said its probe "remains open and may result in further findings," and that those findings are being shared with federal prosecutors.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]

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