Ontario Police Investigating Sports Betting ‘Irregularities’ Involving Jontay Porter-Played Games

Ontario Provincial Police are also "aware of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by Federal authorities in the U.S.A. and will be connecting with them as our investigation moves forward."

Geoff Zochodne - Senior News Analyst at Covers.com
Geoff Zochodne • Senior News Analyst
Jun 18, 2024 • 11:24 ET • 4 min read
Jontay Porter NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Ontario Provincial Police are officially investigating some alleged sports betting strangeness involving two National Basketball Association games earlier this year in which the now-banned Jontay Porter played. 

“The OPP Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) has completed their assessment of available information in relation to the reported online betting irregularities from the January 26 and March 20, 2024 Toronto Raptors games and have determined that a criminal investigation is warranted,” Sgt. Robert Simpson told Covers in an email on Tuesday. 

Asked for more information about who or what the investigation is looking into, Simpson said that no additional details are being provided at this time to protect the probe’s integrity. However, he confirmed the investigation is now underway.

“The OPP IEB is aware of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by Federal authorities in the U.S.A and will be connecting with them as our investigation moves forward,” Simpson said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced earlier this month that a man was charged with conspiring with others to defraud a sportsbook operator. They allegedly did so by betting the “Under” on a certain player’s props for two NBA games while knowing beforehand that the player intended to exit those games early for “purported” health reasons. 

Although Porter’s name was not mentioned, details in the criminal complaint match up with those reported by the media and by the NBA itself regarding the former Raptor.

Porter played just four minutes in the Raptors' Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring no points and recording three rebounds and an assist before leaving with a reported eye injury.

DraftKings reported that the "Under" for Porter's 3-pointers made and rebounds recorded were two of its top five "NBA Moneymakers" for Jan. 26. 

U.S. law enforcement alleges an unnamed player “had amassed large gambling debts” to certain co-conspirators in early 2024. The player was “encouraged to clear those debts by withdrawing from certain games prematurely” to ensure “Under” bets hit, a June 4 press release claimed.

“Shortly before the game on January 26, 2024 ... Player 1 told the defendant that he would be removing himself early from the game, claiming that he was injured,” the release said. “After playing just four minutes and recording zero points, three rebounds and one assist, Player 1 removed himself from the game after he complained to team officials that he had reaggravated the eye injury.”

The release added that "several bettors, including co-conspirators, who wagered the 'under' on prop bets related to Player 1’s performance for the January 26 Game" won their bets, such as a $10,000 same-game parlay.

An allegedly big SGP

The NBA announced in April that Porter was banned for life after an investigation found he broke the league’s rules by providing confidential information to bettors, limiting his play for betting purposes, and wagering on NBA games. 

According to the league, its investigation found Porter provided inside information about his health to an NBA bettor before the Raptors’ March 20 game. Another individual Porter associated with allegedly then placed an $80,000 same-game parlay to win $1.1 million. The wager included the “Under” on several Porter-related props. 

“The league’s investigation also found that Porter limited his own game participation to influence the outcome of one or more bets on his performance in at least one Raptors game,” a press release stated. “In the March 20 game, Porter played only three minutes, claiming that he felt ill. Due to the unusual betting activity and actions of the player, the $80,000 proposition bet was frozen and was not paid out.”

U.S. law enforcement alleges bettors had discussed that "Player 1" would exit the March 20 game early. 

"After playing just three minutes and recording zero points, three rebounds and zero assists, Player 1 removed himself from the March 20 Game, complaining he felt ill," the June 4 release alleges. "Several bettors, including the co-conspirators, who wagered the under on prop bets related to Player 1’s performance won those bets. In total, the defendant and his co-conspirators netted over $1 million in profits."

Four men have now been reportedly arrested in connection with the betting scandal, one of several such controversies that have plagued professional leagues since the expansion of legal sports wagering began in 2018.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Porter has not been charged.

Still, the Porter-related scandal has shaken the NBA to the extent that Commissioner Adam Silver has questioned whether certain betting markets should be offered on its games and players. The NBA has also voiced a preference for federal involvement in the regulation of sports wagering. 

Ontario involvement

In addition to the work of U.S. investigators, Ontario authorities have been monitoring the Porter situation as well. Porter was playing for a team, Toronto, based in Canada’s most populous province, which has a large, competitive market for online sports betting and internet casino gambling.

A spokesperson for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which regulates online gambling in the province, told Covers in March that the OPP’s IEB (which is embedded in the AGCO) would decide if a criminal investigation is needed.

The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits cheating while playing a game or betting with intent to defraud someone, the regulator noted. 

"The police determine whether charges should be laid in relation to any alleged violation of the Criminal Code, including in relation to cheat at play or any other offence," the AGCO spokesperson added.

Simpson, the OPP spokesperson, told Covers in an email in March that the IEB was “engaged in this matter to determine if the allegations alleged are founded and if a criminal investigation is warranted.”

The decision has since been made that the investigation is warranted and the criminal probe has now begun, according to Simpson. 

Covers contacted a lawyer who previously provided a statement on behalf of Porter for comment on the OPP’s investigation. No response was received before this story was published. 

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this,” said Jeff Jensen, a government investigations attorney in St. Louis, in a recent statement to The Associated Press. “He was in over his head due to a gambling addiction. He is undergoing treatment and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement.”

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