Athletes beware: Jontay Porter NBA betting scheme is a lesson in stupidity

In all of Jontay Porter’s idiocy, he provided a service to other professional athletes who might consider placing bets on games in which they are direct participants or in which they have insider knowledge to provide to gamblers.

It’s almost impossible to pull it off in a world of legal, regulated and monitored gambling. It’s even more impossible when you’re as blatant as the NBA says Porter was.

This isn’t like placing an illegal bet with Bill the Bookie and paying losses or collecting wins at the local burger bar on Monday evenings.

That doesn’t mean this won’t happen again. Someone always thinks they can beat the system, and maybe someone can but not Jontay Porter and his simple attempt at trying to make extra money. It’s inevitable, just as it was inevitable it happened in the first place.

Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter averaged 4.4 points in 26 games this season.
Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter averaged 4.4 points in 26 games this season.

The league’s investigation turned up stunning evidence against Porter, the younger brother of Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who was on a two-way NBA/G-League contract with the Toronto Raptors worth about $410,000.

The NBA found Porter told a gambler about his health; another gambler Porter knew placed an $80,000 prop bet on Porter to underperform in specific statistical categories; Porter limited his participation in a game to influence the outcome of one or more games; he placed bets on NBA games through an associate’s online account and though none of the bets involved games Porter played in, one bet included a Raptors game in which Porter bet the Raptors would lose.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had no choice but to deliver Porter a lifetime ban from playing in the league.

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Gambling is everywhere, and the leagues (just not the NBA) have embraced it. You can’t watch a game without gambling being part of the advertising or on-air discussion.

“We limit the amount of sports betting advertising in our games,” Silver said at the conclusions of last week’s NBA owners’ meetings. “Whether that’s at the right line, others may have a different opinion, but we limit it. But that’s just a fraction, of course, of the amount of sports betting advertising we see.

“I live in the New York market. It’s constant in terms of promotions for people to bet on sports.”

It’s a money-maker. It’s good for business. Revenue from the NBA’s gaming partners is shared with the players, and the NBA made it possible in the 2023 collective bargaining agreement for players to have partnerships with gaming companies.

The league can’t prevent a Jontay Porter situation, and that’s why there are safeguards, such as monitoring, to identify improper wagering.

“The alternative is illegal sports betting, and I think at least in a legalized structure, there’s transparency. Just as in cases we’ve dealt with where very sophisticated computers, when there’s aberrational behavior, you become aware of that rather than betting that takes place in the shadows or underground.”

The concern from Silver is real. You can hear it in his voice and read it in his statement he issued announcing Porter’s ban.

“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.

Silver has long proposed federal regulation, and he is also suggesting limiting or eliminating prop bets involving players, namely players with non-guaranteed or nominal contracts who might be more easily influenced to break rules.

Can the NBA and other leagues find a way to do that, or will they just have to live with the consequences? Because even if the league didn’t have relationships with the sports books, the sports books would still be in business and someone would still be looking for a quick payout.

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on social media @JeffZillgitt

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jontay Porter NBA betting scheme is a lesson in stupidity