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Jontay Porter’s lifetime NBA ban highlights the risks of sports gambling

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Porter’s offenses underscore how sports gambling threatens the game and spotlights how the league has promoted it.
The NBA has banned Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter for life after an internal investigation found that he placed bets on basketball and gave information to a bettor to improve their odds.
The Porter fracas is the latest involving athletes and sports betting as the gambling industry has exploded in recent years and as such transactions have become increasingly accessible. It also follows a recent scandal centered on baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, who has been charged with taking $16 million from the athlete to cover gambling debts.
Porter’s gambling practices — including a willingness to change his gameplay to assist with certain bets — ultimately spotlight the ethical quandaries that sports betting poses for athletes and leagues as it becomes more popular.
The betting industry has grown significantly since 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down a policy barring many states from allowing commercial sports betting. In the years since, the majority of states have legalized both in-person and online sports betting, making the practice available to far more people. In 2023, sports betting raked in a record $10.92 billion in revenue, bringing in roughly 45 percent more as an industry than the year before.
As Porter’s case illustrates, a central question raised by the prevalence of sports betting is how sports leagues and athletes can maintain the integrity of their games as betting becomes more common and lucrative.
“The recent case of the NBA’s Jontay Porter is, I am afraid, just the tip of the iceberg,” Sean McKeever, a Davidson College professor who teaches a course on sports and philosophy, told Vox. “The corrupting forces are powerful ones. … And bettors stand to make significant sums if they can extract valuable information and behavior from players and those around them.”The Porter scandal and its mechanics, explained
Porter, a 24-year-old now-former power forward for the Raptors, had been playing in the NBA for four seasons. His penalty for gambling was announced by the league earlier this week and has been viewed by sports observers as a warning shot to other players who might be tempted to try similar practices.
“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.

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