NBA Star Could Be Banned for Life If Found Guilty of Gambling Scam

Basketball and hoopThe governing bodies behind many of the top sports in America take a dim view on their players and coaches gambling on the outcome of games, and for one NBA star that zero-tolerance policy could end their career.

Jontay Porter, a centre for the Toronto Raptors, has been accused of playing his part in an illicit betting ring, in which he failed to get anywhere close to his ‘player prop’ expectations.

A player prop is a basketball bet type in which a bookmaker will offer a line on an individual’s performance – it could be total points, passes, rebounds etc. These are typically priced in a way that the player will get somewhere close to the designated line.

However, so poor were Porter’s performances in a handful of Raptors games – in which he was eventually benched, citing illness or injury – that he got nowhere close to his prop lines, meaning those that backed the ‘unders’ side would profit.

Of course, sportsmen and women have bad days at the office all the time, but the nature of the 24-year-old’s performances – and suspicious betting patterns lines relating to his prop lines – have led the NBA to launch a full investigation.

For Life

At the moment, it should be said that these are simply allegations – there is no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing on Porter’s part. He has not played since the accusations came to light.

The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, has fired a warning to all players within his organisation: the ‘consequences could be very severe’ for anyone found to be involved in a gambling-related plot.

“There is nothing more serious, I think, around this league when it comes to gambling and betting on our games and that is a direct player involvement,” Silver has said. “It’s cardinal sin what he’s accused of in the NBA.” Of the range of disciplinary actions available, a lifetime ban has been mooted.

One unnamed bookmaking source was quoted by ESPN, claiming that punters were ‘trying to do whatever they could’ to wager against Porter’s prop lines. “We had a bunch of people trying to bet under for more,” they alleged.

Two games in particular have come under the microscope. In contests against the LA Clippers in January and the Sacramento Kings in March, Porter took to the court but was later substituted, citing an eye injury and illness respectively.

Because he featured in the games, prop bets would be settled as a win or loss – given that he came nowhere near to achieving his prop lines, those backing the unders side were paid out, with industry officials alerting authorities to a spate of bets backing exactly that outcome.

At the time of writing, no other NBA player has ever been banned for life for gambling offences, although former MLB star Pete Rose was retrospectively handed a lifetime ban from baseball after it emerged that he had bet on Cincinnati Reds games whilst employed as the team’s manager.

Big Hit

Major League Baseball has now been drawn into another gambling scandal – involving arguably the most famous baseball player on the planet in Shohei Ohtani.

When the Japanese star joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023, he put pen to paper on a deal worth a staggering £600 million over seven years.

But what Ohtani didn’t know, somehow, was that he was being robbed by his own interpreter – and not loose change, either.

Ippei Mizuhara, who has worked as the player’s Japanese-English translator since 2018, has been charged with federal bank fraud, with accusations that he stole as much as £12 million from his employer.

According to court papers, Mizuhara had run up significant gambling debts – the desperation of which saw him plunder Ohtani’s personal bank account.

How you don’t spot a missing £12 million is anybody’s guess, and while Ohtani is not accused of foul play himself, it’s likely that he will be called into court to give evidence in a case that could see Mizuhara jailed for a long old time.

It has been claimed that the translator placed 19,000 bets with an illegal bookmaker worth an eye-popping £144 million, which ultimately left Mizuhara facing losses of more than £30 million.

Legal documents claim that Mizuhara was able to persuade bank clerks to change the contact details on Ohtani’s account to his own, while there’s also allegations that the translator impersonated the MLB star in order to gain access to his accounts and send wire transfers.

The case continues….