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NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB weigh betting risks after Porter scandal

NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB weigh betting risks after Porter scandal

A MONTH AFTER the NBA was hit by a gambling scandal involving alleged manipulation, officials at major sports leagues want change on betting menus and betting limits offered at U.S. sportsbooks, according to interviews with league and gambling industry sources.

The NBA’s Adam Silver, the first major U.S. league commissioner to publicly support legalizing betting, told ESPN on Saturday that having regulated sportsbooks handle the betting action — instead of local bookmakers and offshore gambling sites — better protects the league’s integrity and provides “an improved ability to detect aberrant behavior.”

“Still,” Silver wrote in an email, “we believe that sports leagues should have more input into the terms and types of bets offered and that further collaboration is needed among industry stakeholders regarding what is appropriate.”

On April 17, Silver banned Jontay Porter from the NBA, accusing the former Toronto Raptors player of violating the league’s gambling policy. Porter’s “cardinal sin,” according to Silver, came in a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings, during which he allegedly limited his participation to impact lucrative bets that were placed on his statistics at multiple sportsbooks. He played just 3 minutes before leaving, citing illness.

The Porter case, which is being reviewed by authorities in both Canada and the U.S., is the first to include formal allegations of manipulation since states began legalizing sports betting. It sent a “shiver up the spine of all the leagues,” a professional sports league executive who asked that their name not be used told ESPN.

The sports betting industry says the system is working because illicit activity is being identified, but the leagues and critics wonder if the new market is causing the issues in the first place.

“Everybody is waiting for the big scandal,” said Declan Hill, a professor at the University of New Haven who studies international match-fixing. “One of the leagues is going to be hit by some enormous scandal.”


IN THE WAKE of the Porter controversy, league and industry sources told ESPN the NBA was angry that sportsbooks allowed such large amounts of money to be wagered on an obscure player. Among the most suspicious bets was an $80,000 six-leg, same-game parlay placed with DraftKings consisting of under bets on Porter’s statistics…

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