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What the Jontay Porter ban says about pervasive sports gambling ads

One side of a graphic shows Jontay Porter in a number 34 Raptors jersey with a red banner and the words "Jontay Porter banned" across his torso. Logos for sports betting companies FanDuel, Bet365 and DraftKings are on the other side.
Graphic by Ria Sidhu


On April 17, 2024, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced Toronto Raptors forward center Jontay Porter would receive a lifetime ban from the league after he violated league gambling rules. The league began their investigation after suspicious bets involving Porter’s performance in the Raptors’ March 20 matchup with the Sacramento Kings game were flagged by licensed sports betting operations, and brought to the NBA’s attention. 

Between January 2024 and March 2024, Porter violated multiple league rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, intentionally falling ill to limit his game participation for betting purposes, placing bets on NBA games, purposely underperforming in games, and betting on the Toronto Raptors to lose in a multi-game parlay with other teams, per an NBA investigation. 

While travelling with the Toronto Raptors and the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G-League affiliate, Porter placed a minimum of 13 bets on NBA games using an associate’s online betting account. These bets ranged from $15 to $22,000 for a total of $54,094.

League rules state that no NBA employees—including players, coaches, and referees—are allowed to gamble on NBA games. These rules have been set to maintain the integrity of the game and protect the interests of the league, teams, and its players. 

Undoubtedly, this was a shock to the system of the NBA, which has not suspended a player for gambling since Jack Molinas in 1954. But gambling itself is far from a shock.

Betting on games and wagering on player stats or career/franchise records comes as second nature to many NBA fans. Calling sports gambling ads pervasive would be an understatement. Fans and spectators, of the NBA and any other sport, are constantly seeing the logos and celebrity figureheads of online betting sportsbooks, whether in arenas or on TV screens.

In January, the CBC reported that 21% of sports broadcasts consist of gambling advertisements. Between company logos being printed on courts and net arms, commercials, and odds appearing on screens, sports gambling has a heavy influence on what players and fans are watching. 

Heck, there’s a bet for which player will score the first basket in a game, then the bet outcome gets shown on screen within the first minute of play. 

“I have a $84.76 max win on the Pacers and Lakers going over 226.5 points tonight.”

“I wagered $15.00 on a multi-game parlay with the Heat, Warriors, and Bucks.”

“I can win $243.19 if Lebron hits his 40,000 points via layup tomorrow night” 

These are all phrases I’ve heard people say over the last couple of months. 

The integration of sports betting and sports culture is undeniable. With the rise of online platforms and the legalization of betting around the world, gambling on teams and games has become more accessible than ever. Is this seamless combination blurring the line between enjoying sports for sports and enjoying sports for money? 

For many, betting is an opportunity to make quick money while watching your favourite sport and adds an extra layer of excitement. But, it’s a double-edged sword. Gambling on sports offers both the promise to “get rich quick” and the potential to get addicted and lose money. 

For the average person, there’s an extensive list of positives and negatives when it comes to betting on sports. Losing an NBA career is not one of them. Jontay Porter is only 24 years old, just four years into the NBA, with a whole career ahead of him. His case should serve as a reminder of the dangers of sports betting, not only professionally, but personally and legally. 

The influence of gambling advertisements cannot be underestimated. I’ve been thinking about how the exposure of constant ads from companies such as FanDuel, Bet365, and DraftKings has influenced so many and may have influenced Porter. Did the continuous exposure to these advertisements subconsciously contribute to the normalization of gambling? 

It is certainly possible.

Porter is far from the only professional athlete suspended for gambling in recent years. Ten NFL players were suspended for gambling-related offences in 2023 alone, while five soccer players have been suspended in the last two years and Shane Pinto was the first NHL player suspended for gambling since the 1940s. 

Many of these players also received lifetime or indefinite penalties, though some were suspended a few weeks or months. Leagues are still figuring out the landscape. 

To an extent, these issues could have been avoided or addressed. While I understand how addictive and competitive sports gambling can get, the idea of participating while knowing it goes against rules and continuing to do so, makes me question integrity and honesty. 

Some, like English footballer Andros Townsend, have been open about their gambling addictions.


This all raises the question about the responsibility of sports organizations, advertisers, and society as a whole when it comes to addressing the negative impacts of this pervasive market. In fact, it shines a light on just how many questions the sports world has to answer about sports betting.

How can leagues keep their players from betting? Should organizations offer counseling? Should new restrictions be put in place regarding the number of advertisements shown in arenas and TV’s? Are lifetime bans the best route to take? 

Or most of all, is it time to rethink sports betting’s place altogether?


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