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NBA bans Raptors’ Jontay Porter for gambling violations

The Toronto Raptors’ Jontay Porter has been banned from the league after an investigation revealed he had disclosed confidential information to bettors, limited his participation in at least one game while he was with Raptors, and bet on NBA games while playing in the G League.

The NBA said in a release announcing Porter’s ban that its investigation remains open and that it is sharing information with federal authorities. ESPN reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI for comment.

“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 game rules are being met with the most severe punishment,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said while announcing the ban.

The NBA launched an investigation into Porter in late March, after sportsbooks noticed irregular betting on the over/under on the reserve center’s statistics in two Raptors games. In both games, Porter exited after playing only a few minutes.

The NBA’s investigation found that Porter revealed information about his own health to a known sports bettor ahead of a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings. Another bettor privy to the information placed an $80,000 same-game parlay bet that featured unders on Porter’s statistics and would win $1.1 million, according to the NBA. Porter played three minutes before leaving the game with an illness. The bet, which was placed at DraftKings, was not paid.

The league investigation revealed Porter placed at least 13 bets on NBA games using an associate’s online betting account. The bets ranged from $15 to $22,000, totaling $54,094, according to the league. The NBA said the total payout from those bets was $76,059, net winnings of $21,965. None of the bets involved any in which Porter played. Three of the bets were parlays, including one that included a bet on the Raptors to lose. All three bets lost, according to the NBA.

Sportsbooks also reported a spike in betting interest on the under on several of Porter’s statistics ahead of a Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Porter played just four minutes before leaving the game with issues related to an eye injury suffered earlier in the week against the Memphis Grizzlies. He finished with no points, three rebounds and one assist, all under the lines sportsbooks had set for his statistics.

A sportsbook industry source, who noticed the surge in betting on Porter props in the two games in question, told ESPN that some of the same betting accounts attempted to place larger than normal bets in both instances. Most of the betting accounts that backed Porter unders in the games in question were located in New Jersey, New York and Arizona, according to multiple sources.

The NBA said it was alerted to the suspicious activity by licensed sportsbooks and an organization that monitors legal betting markets. Las Vegas firm U.S. Integrity, which works with sportsbooks, leagues and state gaming regulators, and monitored the Porter abnormalities, said it is “proud to continue to support the NBA in initiatives relating to regulated sports betting.”

The Raptors said they are “fully supportive of the league’s decision to ban Jontay Porter from the NBA and are grateful for the swift resolution to this investigation. We will continue to cooperate with all ongoing inquiries.”

Silver was the first major U.S. sports league commissioner to advocate for legalizing and regulating sports betting. In a 2014 op-ed in the New York Times, he called for a federal framework for sports betting. He said in Wednesday’s release that the transparency of legal betting helps identify suspicious activity, but more needed to be done to prevent more issues.

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

Ideas, including prohibiting sportsbooks from offering wagering on players on two-way contracts, have been floated, according to gaming industry sources.

Last week, the Colorado Division of Gaming sent a request to sportsbooks for any information on Porter’s potential betting history in the state. Citing state regulations, a spokesperson for the Division of Gaming told ESPN it cannot comment on potential investigations. Sports betting media site Action Network reported Tuesday that Porter placed over 1,000 bets on the FanDuel account, which was closed after he signed a two-way contract with the Raptors in December.

Porter is a brother of the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr.

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