EPISODE 231 | LSR Podcast

Jontay Porter Banned From The NBA | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 231


22 min
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Jontay Porter Banned From The NBA | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 231

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the ultimate punishment to Jontay Porter for his activities around sports betting and his performance. Did the system work as planned? Plus, why Georgia sports betting legislation failed on a familiar path, whether Alabama sports betting still has any chance to pass, and the latest on Shohei Ohtani.

Full transcript

Matt Brown (00:11):

Hello, and welcome to episode number 231 of the LSR Podcast. My name is Matt Brown, joined each and every week by the brightest minds in all of the gaming industry. With me, I have Adam Candee. We’re going to run through a couple of state notes and go ahead and get you the big story of April 17th. But not a ton to talk about here, Adam, but didn’t want to leave people hanging. So we’re going to go ahead, and we’re going to power through a few minutes for everyone here.

Adam Candee (00:38):

What you call not a ton to talk about, I will call an NBA player getting banned for life for betting. So you know what? Let’s just start right there, right?

Matt Brown (00:46):

Yes, that is where we are going to kick things off. This is a story that we talked about a couple of weeks here on the program. It was something that was a secondary of the topics for us when we were talking about the Ohtani and the Ohtani translator situation, but this was a real actual deal of the NBA getting into one of the players betting on games. And Adam, over the last couple of weeks, they did their investigation. Stuff has come out, and as we sit here this morning recording this on a Wednesday morning, fortunately we waited until we started right now because the news comes through that that player in particular is going to be banned for life from the league.

Adam Candee (01:27):

Jontay Porter has received a lifetime ban from the NBA for gambling violations. And considering this news just broke, I’m not going to try to snow you and pretend like I know it off the top of my head. I’m going to read directly from Commissioner Adam Silver’s statement: “There’s nothing more important than protecting the integrity of NBA competition for our fans, teams, and everyone associated with our sport, which is why Jontay Porter’s blatant violations of our gaming rules are being met with the most severe punishment. While legal sports betting creates transparency that helps identify suspicious or abnormal activity, this matter also raises important issues about the sufficiency of our regulatory framework currently in place, including the types of bets offered on our games and players. Working closely with all relevant stakeholders across the industry, we will continue to work diligently to safeguard our league and our game.”


So what did Jontay Porter do? There were multiple instances, according to this, of him betting on NBA games. He used someone else’s account to do that. There are probably the worst of the allegations, which are part of this investigation, which are that Jontay Porter disclosed information about his health to someone known to be an NBA better, who then placed an $80,000 parlay involving Jontay Porter to win $1.1 million. And there are more details about this. We’ll have more about it coming at LSR. Matt, at the time that this came out, you and I said innocent until proven guilty. However, the facts look pretty bad for Jontay Porter. It looked pretty obvious that what we knew at the time that he had removed himself from two games early, in which at DraftKings, he was the most-bet prop on the day, and it was unders that were being bet. We knew that looked about as bad as it gets, and the NBA has responded in kind.


Now, there’s going to be the usual rush to judgment about what this means for the NBA, what this means for legal sports betting. We’ll tell you the same sort of thing that we’ve told you before, which is that this is an example of the regulated market doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is quickly identifying and then investigating and taking severe action against someone trying to compromise the integrity of games. This is as bad as it gets. We cannot say any more than this is as bad as it gets for an individual player in the NBA.


As Adrian Wojnarowski reported at ESPN, some of those bets that Jontay Porter made, even though they were not in games in which he was playing, were for the Raptors to lose. He bet on his own team to lose. Again, as bad as it gets. And that being said, the market did what it was supposed to do in catching it. And the NBA, when we talk about self-regulation, did what it was supposed to do in banning him for life. There was no half measure from Adam Silver here. He is banned for life. And to me, that speaks very well of the leagues recognizing, OK, this is one of those crystal clear moments in which you cannot leave any room for doubt if integrity is going to be protected.

Matt Brown (04:49):

Absolutely, Adam. And the other thing about this is this doesn’t mean for some of the stuff that I’ve seen out there. And listen, does maybe at least make this something that people think about a little bit more? Maybe about gambling legalization. But what I will say is just because legalized gambling has happened in the United States does not mean that this could not have happened anyway. This is a deal in which if you have an NBA player who’s willing to risk his career for a payday, there are ways to get down. Offshore with bookies, whatever it might be. That does not mean that that prevents this from happening. All it really does is, like you said, makes it come to light when it does happen. And it’s stuff that can get caught, and it’s stuff that can be looked at.


And look, you and I said this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth repeating again. This only happens with a player like Jontay Porter. A guy that was on a tiny little two-way contract deal or whatever. Because again, even if this parlay, which they’re saying possibly could have paid out $1.1 million, Adam, the players that matter that can actually change the outcome of a game are making $20, $30, $40 million a year in the NBA. It’s ridiculously lucrative for starters. And as you get to the very end of the bench, then yeah, there are dudes that are not making very much money.


But it’s a deal in which you’re not getting anybody of any name whatsoever to do anything that they would throw a stat, that they wouldn’t go out and try to perform and all that. And listen, does that lead to what we were talking about? Does that lead to player props only coming out for starters? Does that lead to whatever? I mean, maybe. And if it does, it does. But this is an always evolving thing that we’re going through right now. And now that we’ve seen this occur, there will probably be measures taken further by either the league or by these sportsbooks, and I’m fine with that.

Adam Candee (06:58):

I understand where Adam Silver was coming from in the lifetime ban. Where I don’t understand where Adam Silver is coming from, and you talk about measures that can be taken, Matt, this is where I digress from Adam Silver. You can talk about how you want a clearer regulatory framework. There is no regulatory framework anywhere that would have changed this. You can say about what types of bets are offered, but let’s not try to pretend that the growth of what we’ve seen in terms of the NBA’s relationship with its betting partners would exist without prop bets, without same-game parlays. If you want to make money off this partnership, you are buying in on the idea of individual betting on your players. Period. And so for Adam Silver to come out in this moment and try to pin it on anybody else but his own league is ridiculous.


That part of this release I cannot get down with at all because this is the NBA going back to the old kind of playbook that we saw the first couple of years of legal sports betting when they were going around begging for integrity fees, when they were going around begging for official league data, claiming that somebody else had to do the job for them. Well, Matt, to the point you just made, if you believe that Jontay Porter is the first player to have done something like this in a major professional sport, you are naive because I guarantee something like this has already happened in the offshore market. It might’ve happened 10 years ago, it might’ve happened 20 years ago, it might’ve happened 30 years ago. These things have been going on, but we have a regulatory structure set up to catch them at this point.


Did the NBA catch Jontay Porter? Hell no, the NBA didn’t catch Jontay Porter. The integrity monitoring system caught Jontay Porter. The people at the sportsbooks caught Jontay Porter. So let’s not pretend if you’re in Adam Silver’s shoes, that this is a failure about what bet types are offered. I don’t remember anyone in the NBA going around saying that they are not going to be down with prop bets being offered before now. That is a ridiculous notion, and if that’s what the NBA truly wants, just get out of the business altogether. Because if you think that your benefits from regulated sports betting, the money that a FanDuel is willing to pay to partner with you is going to exist if you try to limit bets on that scale, then I think you might as well just call it a day.

Matt Brown (09:27):

And Adam, listen, obviously we’re industry advocates in all of those things, so I know some people are going to listen to this like, “Oh, you guys are marks.” I’m not, and I’m just speaking in truth here. I’m speaking in reality, which is the fact that listen, you’re not going to be able to prevent everything. There are just bad people. There are bad dudes. There are people who are always looking for edge, edges. That are always looking for people that are gaming the system. And that’s not just in this industry. That’s not just in sports. I mean, everything in life. I mean, how many insider trading things have gone through the stock market and all this stuff? And it’s like people can’t help themselves sometimes. And they see something that they think is some sort of edge, and they can’t say no.


And so you sit and you look and you just have to say, “This worked. There are going to be bad dudes. We caught the bad dude. There’s going to be bad situations. We caught the bad situation.” It’s not a thing where you go in and you start to say, “Ah, this has got to go now. Or this is what…” No. I mean, sometimes people are going to break the rules. You catch them breaking the rules, and then you lay down a punishment like Adam Silver did, and you ban the guy for life. And so now, unequivocally, does everyone know exactly what is going to go down if this ever happens in the future again. And so I just think this is just something that was going to happen. At some point somewhere along the way, I think it was dealt with appropriate. The bet got frozen, investigation started immediately, and then they found out what went on, and they banned the guy and whatever. I think everything worked. Everything worked.

Adam Candee (11:00):

It did work the way it was supposed to work. And if you’re listening to this right now and saying, “Wow, these guys just won’t give it up.” I’m going to go back and say, this is as bad as it gets.

Matt Brown (11:10):


Adam Candee (11:10):

You have a player who not only removed himself from the game in order to affect bets, but he was telling people ahead of time what was going to happen. He was going and removing himself from the game, having told somebody who he knew that was an NBA better, what was going to happen. This is as bad as it gets. This is someone actually rigging their performance to try to affect betting. That being said, it was caught, and it was punished in the appropriate way.


Now, to talk about the leagues and their relationship with professional sports betting, yes. I shouldn’t say professional. With legalized sports betting. If we talk about those relationships and the need to balance self-regulation with regulation from states and potentially some regulation at the federal level, depending on what they decide to do, that is a real discussion that can be had about the right way to balance this. And like you said, Matt, if it comes down to who bets are offered on, what limits are available on certain players, whatever the case might be, the league has its policy, the integrity monitoring services are enforcing it. And in this case, it worked. And if it leads to some level of changes, that’s completely understandable-

Matt Brown (12:33):

So be it. Right.

Adam Candee (12:34):

… I’m fine with that. Yeah. I’m right there with you, Matt, that if there are changes that need to happen, then that’s fine. Adam Silver coming out and saying, “We need to look at what bet types are offered” is not a reasonable starting point for that discussion.

Matt Brown (12:47):

It’s not. But again, guys, it’s a deal where this was going to … Stuff like this was bound to happen because there are bad dudes. There are people who will always look for some sort of edge, always game the system. Remember this wasn’t just Porter. This was a bettor that was in cahoots with him. Who knows who else that was also part of all of this. They knew what was going down. They knew why they made that bet. So it’s multiple people here who are all trying to game the system and all that. And unfortunately, that’s just stuff that we’re going to have to deal with in life. And like I said, I think that this was handled appropriately. Adam, over at Legal Sports Report, we do have two other stories, some couple of state updates that are going on over there involving a couple of southern states in Alabama and Georgia.

Why Georgia sports betting legislation failed on a familiar path

Adam Candee (13:35):

Yeah. We’ll start in Georgia where, once again, what looked like promising momentum in the early part of a session has stalled out. It has been pretty much the same playbook repeated year after year in Georgia in which it starts to look like this might be the year that it gets done. And then a divided legislature ultimately takes the sports betting issue and buries it under much more important issues. It gets used as a tool in negotiations and is a prime example of why we say over and over again that it is much more difficult to pass these pieces of legislation than it appeared during the first four to five years of the legal sports betting era.


So what we see is that Georgia will not have legal sports betting. Again for a third consecutive year, we see something introduced. We see it passed chamber, and then we see it get buried. It’s been health care before, it’s been voting rights, it’s been transgender care. It’s been many other issues that have a lot more weight for legislators that have ultimately taken down sports betting in Georgia. I have a feeling it will come back. The question is going to be for legislators in Georgia, in what form are you going to bring this back? Is this something that potentially should be going to the ballot? Because we’ve already talked about the fact that in Georgia, it was going to require a constitutional amendment, even though there was some disagreement among legislators as to whether that was going to be the case. It looked like that was going to be what passed. If we’re going to have to go to the ballot in the first place, you might want to consider doing it all at one time.

Whether Alabama sports betting still has any chance to pass


Now over in Alabama, there is a glimmer of hope still alive as a bill that once was a comprehensive lottery/sports betting/casino bill has been stripped and is going to conference committee where you pretty much expect that this is going to come out with either a lottery alone or nothing. One side passes a comprehensive bill. One side strips it down to lottery only. Alabama is one of the few states that does not have a state-sanctioned lottery, and it’s supposed to be brought up in conference committee. We’re coming down toward the end of the session in Alabama. One of the legislators at the heart of it told our Pat Evans, “Hey, I mean, your guess is as good as mine as to where this ultimately ends up.” This is a lot more progress than we’ve seen on sports betting in Alabama in the past. And so that could be something that gets tucked into the back pocket of the industry and of Alabama state legislators, and potentially they come back with that in a couple of years.

The latest on Shohei Ohtani


Now, to go back to one thing that happened, we had a little break in between this podcast and our last. Matt, I’ll just bring up one other thing. In that time, we did see the bulk of the Ippei Mizuhara and Shohei Ohtani case come to light with the agreement, I should say the charges that were levied against Ippei Mizuhara and potentially the agreement that could be coming for him. It wasn’t $4.5 million; it was $16 million. There was well more than $100 million in terms of handle that went in and out. He apparently won about $140 million, lost about $180 million. So this was a significant situation.


One of the texts shows that Ippei Mizuhara at one point stopped communicating with the bookmaker alleged to be Mathew Bowyer, and that bookmaker wrote back and said, “Hey, I see Shohei Ohtani walking down the street with his dog. So if you’re not going to talk to me, should I just go up and chat with Shohei about this?” So, I mean, it takes the sort of turns that you expect to see in one of these illegal market cases. But based upon everything that has come out, it appears to clear Shohei Ohtani pretty broadly for any allegation that he was involved in illegal sports betting. Whether Ippei Mizuhara is taking the fall entirely or whether Ippei Mizuhara is entirely responsible in the first place, it does appear that Major League Baseball and Shohei Ohtani are going to try to move on from this one about as quickly as they can.

Matt Brown (17:40):

Yeah. Circling back here, just a little bit of anecdotal stuff. The reason I was out last week, obviously I was over in Georgia, went from Georgia to South Carolina, Adam, and just talking to people there. The appetite for sports betting is great. Every single person I talked to, there were conversations that were happening around me that were happening, not because I brought them up, just because they were happening around me and that I just started having a little bit of a back and forth with some of these guys and stuff like that. And it was everyone from people 15 years younger than me to people 15 years older than me. And as I made my way over to South Carolina, much of the same as I was over there too.


So it’s interesting that the lawmakers are not finding a way to get it done because it does seem like the people at least certainly want this done. And they brought up, and this is just again, not us continuing to kick a dead horse on stuff like that. But they brought up the fact that, “Yeah, the only thing I can do is play and name PrizePicks. Yeah, the only thing I can do is play PrizePicks.” And so they mentioned that to me and all that, and they would rather obviously traditionally bet sports and whatever and be able to bet spreads and totals and things and whatnot.


But they’re taking what they can get, and that’s what they talked about to me. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m taking what I can get.” And so I think all of those claims that you and I were talking about where you understand why DraftKings and FanDuel are pissed off. I understand what DraftKings and FanDuel are pissed off because these people are in these markets, and people really are just doing the, “Well, it’s all I got, so I’m going to do it.” It’s like they’re literally just kind of like, “Yeah. It is what it is, so that’s what I’m going to use.”

Adam Candee (19:25):

Yeah. No matter what we’ve said about the fantasy sports pick’em situation versus legal sports betting, there’s not anyone on this podcast or anyone who’s going to come on this podcast who’s going to hold it against someone who’s living in one of those states for using whatever option happens to be in front of them that is not expressly made illegal. Now, we talk about the offshore sports betting market. That is expressly illegal. We’ve covered that before. These fantasy sports products operate in a gray area. They are in some places regulated. They are in some places not.


But yeah, if you’re going to talk about what is available to them in South Carolina, that is a state that introduced sports betting legislation, and we were told by our sources that if Georgia goes, South Carolina will go. Well, Georgia didn’t go, and so South Carolina didn’t really go anywhere at all this year. To the point you made about fantasy sports, Matt, to just put a bow on everything we’ve discussed on this podcast, PrizePicks, Underdog, all of those of the ilk in which you are picking overs and unders on players. Again, Adam Silver. If you think you’re going to ban all of those bet types, you’re reaching into the fantasy sports industry as well. You’re not just talking about the legal sports betting industry because for some of these apps, that’s all of what it’s built on is being able to offer these bet types on certain players.

Matt Brown (20:47):

Yeah, and I did the same thing you said, too. I told them, I go, “Hey, man, I don’t blame you. I mean, if I lived here and that was all I could do, I probably would do it too.” I mean, so I don’t blame them. But it was just more of our thing of the yes, they are getting a lot of market share, and they’re getting a lot of business. They’re getting a lot of people because they would bet sports legally, but it’s not offered to them, so they have to go alternative routes. And so that just keeps driving home to us why legalizing this is still just the better deal. They’re not going through bookies, they’re not going through these other routes. They would just go through the legal channels that were there. Again, guys, all the stuff we talk about, you can find over on legalsportsreport.com. If you want to follow Adam on the Twitter machine, Adam Candee, two E’s, no Y. If you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. For Adam, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.

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