Jontay Porter Investigation Example of Sports Betting Oversight Working

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The NBA is currently investigating Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter, who is under suspicion following irregular betting activity on his player props in two games this season.

The naysayers and opponents of sports betting are coming out to take a victory lap as they holler “I told you so” to the NBA and other professional sports leagues about the dangers of expanded legal gambling in the United States.

But regardless of how the Porter affair pans out, regulated sports betting sites are preferable to an illegal market, which we’ve witnessed luring unsuspecting bettors in states without legal sportsbooks.

The fact is: the strange betting activity that was reported surrounding Porter’s player props were immediately recognized and reported by DraftKings Sportsbook. The active investigation is precisely what the NBA should do when something like this occurs.

Increased Betting Volume Reportedly Occurred for Porter

The details of the Porter incidents are slowly being revealed, according to sources like Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who first broke the story. In both games in question, one on Jan. 26 and the other on March 20, Porter left the court reportedly due to minor injuries or illness. In both cases, his prop bets on three-point shots, points, and assists were all Under. DraftKings reportedly claims that the money wagered and won on the Under for Porter’s three-point shots made for the Jan. 26 game was the most they lost in any prop bet for the NBA that day.

This is exactly how sports betting operators are supposed to handle such an unusual betting pattern. Critics of sportsbooks are pointing fingers in the wrong direction if they think DraftKings, FanDuel, or Caesars are to blame for alleged shady betting activity.

It’s been revealed by some members of a Discord server operated by Porter, that the NBA player was sharing investing and sports betting advice in that forum. That’s troubling, but not a black mark on legal sports betting: if true, it’s an indication that Porter has (at the least) poor judgment, and (at the worst) a gambling problem.

It is probably inevitable that there are going to be athletes who have gambling addictions as sports betting continues to become popular in the US. It’s also likely that a handful of athletes may display greed and nefarious intent, hoping to financially capitalize on sports betting. That Porter allegedly removed himself from games so the Under would hit on his prop markets is a sign that he may have chosen to impact those bets, but not the overall outcome of the game.

So far, the NFL has suspended at least two players for betting on either pro football (but not their own games), or wagering with unregulated sportsbooks. Currently, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is the subject of a probe by Major League Baseball regarding money from his bank account that ended up paying illegal sportsbooks for bets he claims he did not make.

Regulation Is Working, but Issues Will Arise

In the almost six years since a landmark US Supreme Court decision opened the way for states to legalize sports betting, more than 30 states have done so. Most have made it legal for consumers to wager online via mobile betting apps or websites. The convenience of such activity isn’t lost on state regulators. States are putting regulations in place that restrict where sportsbooks can advertise, on which sports, and even what language can be used in advertisements.

Despite worries from opponents, sports betting is proving to be wildly popular in every state where it debuts. So far, no studies have shown an alarming increase in the rate of problem gambling or addiction, per capita. Admittedly, more data is needed, and the research needs to be funded. But for now, despite headline-grabbing stories like Ohtani and Porter, sports betting has yet to mar the games and sporting events we all love.

Just like alcohol, marijuana, and other regulated activities, there will always be violations and incidents of bad character in sports betting. There is justified concern about unpaid college students being tempted to influence games they participate in. Porter is not a star, and as a result, does not earn the multi-millions that many of his NBA peers do. That may be a reason he might have been tempted to influence his prop bet markets, allegedly. But, it’s also possible that he is thrilled by the action. Most professional athletes will not be tempted by the relatively minor amount of money they can win on a prop bet (sportsbooks often restrict the dollars you can wager on such markets).

Guilty or innocent, the Porter affair serves as a reminder that the guard rails in sports betting are working. If sports betting was unregulated, and not under such a watchful eye, such a situation could occur with illegal sportsbooks, and we might never know whether we could trust our sports.

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About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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