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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Sports betting and lifetime bans: Jontay Porter breaks the ultimate rule in professional sports

This year alone, two major sports gambling scandals have occurred, exposing an industry overtaken by gambling


By CAROLYN (CARI) FENN — sports@theaggie.org


 On April 17, the NBA announced that they had placed a lifetime ban on Toronto Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter after he was found to have violated league betting rules on games. Porter is currently facing serious repercussions for providing information to sports gamblers and faking an illness for betting purposes.

The NBA began investigating Porter in late March after multiple instances of betting irregularities were noticed. The league was mainly looking at prop bets involving Porter from games on Jan. 26 and March 20

When the Raptors played the LA Clippers on Jan. 26, Porter left the game after just four minutes due to an aggravation of an eye injury. Before the game, there was an increased betting interest in the under for Porter’s props, with DraftKings Sportsbook stating that the under on Porter’s three-pointers was the biggest money winner for bettors of the night for the NBA.

Then, nearly two months later on March 26 when the Raptors faced the Sacramento Kings, Porter left after playing for just three minutes with an illness and did not return. The next day, DraftKings Sportsbook reported that Porter’s Prop bets had the largest winnings of the night in the NBA. That night, it was later discovered that a bettor associated with Porter placed an $80,000 parlay proposition bet on Porter’s props hitting the under, which would have resulted in a $1.1 million payout. The unusual betting activity caused the $80,000 bet to be frozen and never paid out. 

Suspicion largely began to arise following the March 20 game after licensed sports betting operators and an organization that monitors legal betting markets brought the findings of these suspicious bets to the NBA. The suspicious increase in the number of bets on the under of Porter’s props and the unusual performance of Porter led to the two-way player’s downfall.

In the end, the NBA found that Porter had violated league rules on sports betting. Along with being found guilty of disclosing confidential information to a sports bettor for the March 20 game, Porter was found to have placed bets on NBA teams from January through March 2024. While Porter was traveling with the Raptors’ NBA G League affiliate, Porter placed at least 13 bets on NBA games on an associate’s betting account ranging from $15 to $22,000. Porter bet a total of $54,094 and earned a payout of $76,059 during those two months. 

The league’s investigation into Porter remains open and may result in further findings. Porter could potentially face criminal charges for his actions.

The last time the NBA faced such a large gambling scandal was in 2007 when referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to two felonies for betting on the NBA and advising professional gamblers. 

While Jontay Porter is the first player in almost 60 years to be banned from the NBA for gambling offenses, his scandal is not the first huge sports betting scandal to rock the sports world in 2024. 

On March 20, 2024, the Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, after questions started to arise following nearly $4.5 million in wire transfers from Shohei Ohtani’s bank account were sent to a bookmaking operation. At first, Mizuhara tried to claim that Ohtani had sent the money to pay off his gambling debts for him.

“[Mizuhara] has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies,” Ohtani said after he and his lawyers came out to deny Mizuhara’s claim.

While the MLB initially opened an investigation into Ohtani to see if the superstar had engaged in any form of sports betting with his former interpreter, they have since announced that they will wait for the conclusion of the federal government’s case against Ippei Mizuhara before deciding if further investigation is necessary.

The scandal comes after Ohtani signed a record-breaking $700 million deal with the Dodgers in December — the terms included Ohtani being able to keep his interpreter Mizuhara.

Despite gambling once being greatly restricted in professional and high-level college sports, it has been drastically increasing in the last few years. In 2023 alone, Americans bet $120 billion on sports, which is about a 28% increase from the year before. 

Sports betting has taken off greatly since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibited it in 2018. As a result of the ruling, sports betting has been made legal and operational in 38 states, including Washington, D.C., through online/mobile sportsbooks. 

While these two betting scandals have rocked the sports world this year, they are not the first and certainly will not be the last. These scandals are likely only the tip of the iceberg of betting scandals within the sports world as our world progresses to more technologically advanced generations. 

Written by: Carolyn (Cari) Fenn — sports@theaggie.org


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