Jontay Porter Joins List of Shamed Athletes Banned for Gambling

The National Basketball Association has banned former player Jontay Porter permanently for gambling on the sport and taking action during games this past season to affect NBA betting outcomes.

The gambling scandal, which shows that Porter wagered against his own team as part of a parlay, and took himself out of games to impact his own player prop bets, has cast a shadow over the sport. It’s caused some to question the increasing spread of legal sports betting in the US. More than 35 states now have legal online and/or retail sports betting.

The NBA acted swiftly to punish Porter, proving again that it is a master at protecting its brand, and adding his name to the shamed list of athletes permanently barred from their sport for gambling. The list below touches on many of those athletes and gambling incidents, but not every one.

1919 World Series Black Sox Scandal

The granddaddy of all gambling scandals, you know the 1919 Black Sox incident was infamous because they’ve made movies about it. Even though it happened more than a century ago, the scandal that enveloped the 1919 World Series is still mentioned today when critics warn of the dangers of sports betting.

In 1919, gamblers conspired with several baseball players, including members of the Chicago White Sox, to fix the World Series. Some money, at least $50,000 but probably more, was paid to eight members of the Sox, who were heavily favored to defeat the Cincinnati Reds.

Instead, the White Sox lost the World Series, with key members like pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams performing poorly to accomplish the scheme. Star outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose batting style was copied by Babe Ruth, accepted money and took part in the fix. In 1920, when the details became known, Jackson and seven of his teammates were permanently banned from Major League Baseball.

The Black Sox Scandal prompted MLB owners to hire a commissioner to clean up their game. There were plenty of good reasons to do so, even before that nefarious event. It’s possible, some baseball researchers claim, that the 1918 World Series also had its own fixing scandal and gambling scheme. And after the new commissioner was installed, at least a dozen other players were banned from MLB, for betting activities that stemmed as far back as prior to 1910.

1961 NCAA Basketball Betting Scandal

In 1961, at least eight men’s college basketball players were embroiled in a scheme to fix games. All of those athletes were subsequently banned from ever playing in the NBA. Two of those players, Tony Jackson and Doug Moe, later played in the American Basketball Association (ABA), and Moe was allowed to coach in the NBA, which he did for several years.

NFL Legends Almost Face “Sports Death Penalty”

The NFL, for all its immense popularity, and longtime status as the most popular sport of gamblers, has had a very clean record in terms of betting scandals. But in the early 1960s, it almost had to banish two of the most iconic players in the sport.

In 1963, Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers and Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions were found to have violated league rules by betting on professional football. No evidence emerged that they had bet on their own teams. They were each suspended for one full season. Both returned to the NFL, and both are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose and Permanent MLB Ban

Why is the man who has more hits than any other player in MLB history not in the Hall of Fame? Because he was a gambling addict who thought he could get away with anything. For years, Pete Rose wagered on baseball, often on his own team, and for as much as tens of thousands of dollars a day. In 1989, when Rose, who is the all-time hit king, was manager of his hometown Reds, he was investigated for gambling on the game.

In Aug. 1989, MLB determined that Rose had bet on baseball, and placed his name on the permanently ineligible list. It was supposed to be a deal: Rose and his lawyers thought they had made an arrangement that MLB would not find Pete had bet on baseball, and his ban would be lifted after a year. Instead, commissioner Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack within months, and in many ways, Rose’s chances for an appeal died, too.

Rose denied having ever bet on baseball. But many years later he finally admitted his transgressions. He’s still ineligible to be associated in an official way with Major League Baseball, and as a result, he cannot be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Recent Disciplinary Actions in the Legal Sports Betting Era

In recent years, a handful of players have violated the gambling rules of US professional sports leagues. Despite very clear instructions to players and programs to educate their leagues on the rules and dangers of gambling, some athletes have been unable to resist temptation.

In 2023, wide receiver Quintez Cephus was suspended indefinitely because he bet on NFL games. A few others, including Josh Shaw, who bet against his own team in 2019, have faced banishment. In 2023, NFL safety CJ Moore and defensive end Shaka Toney were suspended for violating their league’s policy on gambling. They could be reinstated, but are technically banned for life.


About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a veteran writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He has written three books, including The Ballplayers: Baseball’s Greatest Players Remembered, Ranked, and Revealed, which will be released in 2024. Holmes has previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball.

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