Jontay Porter Lawyer: Banned NBA Player a Gambling Addict, Undergoing Treatment

Jontay Porter suffers from gambling addiction and was “in over his head” before the NBA banned him because of multiple sports betting offenses, the former Toronto Raptor’s lawyer said.

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this. He was in over his head due to a gambling addiction,” Jeff Jensen, a government investigations attorney told the Associated Press. “He is undergoing treatment and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement.”

The fourth person named in the federal indictment surrounding the scandal was arrested on Friday. Ammar Awawdeh, 32, surrendered in New York after alleged co-conspirators Timothy McCormack, Mahmud Mollah, and Long Phi Pham were arrested and charged with wire fraud. Pham could face 20 years in prison for helping orchestrate a scheme where Porter allegedly twice intentionally underperformed so the under would hit for his player prop bets.

Porter is not named in the complaint, but the alleged actions of “Player 1” in charging documents match those the NBA used to ban him on April 17. NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said last week that the system in place to detect irregularities and preserve the league’s integrity is sound, but added that a federal umbrella is preferable. The suspect bets were originally flagged by a legal sportsbook.

Player 1 owed “significant gambling debts” to at least one of the alleged conspirators, according to the Pham complaint was told he could pay them off by undertaking something “special.”

Addiction as a Reason, Not an Excuse for Expensive Mistakes

Jontay Porter gambling addiction
AP Photo of Jontay Porter. Brant James illustration

According to Sportrac, Porter amassed around $2.3 million in salary over five seasons as a two-way player shuttling between Toronto, Detroit, Milwaukee, Memphis, and their developmental G League teams. HoopsHype has his earnings for this season at $411,794.

Various media reports claim Porter wagered millions with legal sportsbook apps before joining the Raptors. According to the NBA investigation, Porter placed 13 bets — ranging in size from $15 to $22,000 for a total of $54,094 — on NBA games from January through March while playing for Toronto or its G League affiliate.

Porter netted $21,965 from his bets this year after risking his life earnings as a professional player in recent ones. One of the prop bets Porter helped rig would have paid $1.1 million if not detected and voided.

“This could be a massive operation for someone who’s making league minimum to get a cut of potentially that amount of money,” Canadian professional sports bettor Rob Pizzola told CBC News. “That could be three years of salary. So when you get into bench players, players are making less money and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that this could happen.”

Suspended cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Jr., claimed his untoward bets on the NFL were made for family and friends and in an ESPN interview said he risked an $850,000 salary because he never thought he would be caught.

Former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara is accused of defrauding at least $16 million from MLB star Shohei Ohtani to facilitate a gambling addiction.

English Premier League players Ivan Toney and Sandro Tonali each claimed to have gambling addictions after it was found they illegally wagered on games in which they were involved. The admission helped reduce Toney’s eventual sanction.

Active professional players in North American pro sports not facing legal jeopardy and seeking reinstatement after suspensions have adamantly denied addiction, however. NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley asserted that he made a “stupid mistake” betting on NFL games in 2021 and claimed on then-Twitter:

“I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem”

Lia Nower, professor and director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers, hopes that heightened gambling addiction awareness can be a by-product of recent betting scandals in professional sports. She doesn’t believe citing gambling addiction will be seen as a tactic.

“As these scandals begin piling up – as they inevitably will – hopefully, consumers and advocacy groups will shine the necessary spotlight on the downside of sports betting. Hopefully, we will also see movement on the federal level to establish regulation,” Nower said in an email to Gaming Today. “I don’t think many people will see these as jury ploys but, rather, an obvious outcome when sports wagering is glamorized as harmless, ads are allowed to blanket the TV unchecked, and no education or prevention efforts, particularly targeting youth and athletes, has accompanied all the rampant legalization.”

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Lead Writer
Brant James is a lead writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times,, espnW,, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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