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Athletes, Sports Betting and the Nightmare Scenario



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Mark Keast

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Athletes, Sports Betting and the Nightmare Scenario

Things had gone quiet with the NBA’s investigation into allegations against former Toronto Raptor Jontay Porter that he gambled on NBA games, over the past week or so, anyway.

The story was first reported in ESPN on March 25, after an investigation showed that prop bets involving Porter for Raptors games Jan. 26 and March 20 ended up being the biggest moneymakers, according to DraftKings

A DraftKings spokesperson told us: “We have no comment on this story. In general, it is important to note that one of the many benefits of legal and regulated sports betting is that sports betting operators identify, and report suspicious activity and the integrity of sport is therefore protected in a manner that does not exist in the illegal market.”

Then NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear Wednesday that Porter could be banned from the league permanently if what he has been accused of turns out to be true. So, the match on the story has been lit again, and here we are until the results of the investigation come out.

Silver told ESPN there’s nothing more serious than gambling on NBA games. The investigation is ongoing. But the hammer is clearly going to come down if the allegations turn out to be true. 

⭐ Place Your Bets at DraftKings ⭐

In the U.S. it’s a patchwork scenario of some states that have approved sports betting, others that haven’t. In Canada, while single-game sports betting is legal across the country, Ontario is the only province that has an open, competitive model, with 27 licensed operators currently offering sports betting markets and covering 70+ sports.

In Q3, out of $17.2 billion in total wagers in the province, sports, esports, novelty bets accounted for 18 per cent ($3.12 billion) of that, and $171 million (25 per cent) of gaming revenue ($658 million total).

Then there’s the tax money being generated for the province – according to the just-released 2024 Ontario budget igaming activities generated $87 million in income for the government in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The open, competitive market went live in Ontario in April 2022. The government is projecting that number to hit $162 million in 2023-24 and $174 million in 2024-25.

Athletes betting on their sports is the nightmare scenario. Protecting the integrity of the sports is paramount or the whole structure will fall. So good on Silver for getting out ahead of this hard. All the major sports are in deep with sports betting now. There’s too much on the line for vagueness.

U.S. Attorney Announces Charges in Ohtani’s Case

Then there’s the Shohei Ohtani situation, where yesterday news broke that federal investigation revealed that the former interpreter for the Japanese baseball superstar stole more than $16 million over two years from his client to pay off gambling debts with an illegal sportsbook. 

Ippei Mizuhara was charged by federal authorities and is looking at possibly decades in prison.

A spokesperson for the federal authorities made a point of emphasizing that Ohtani was considered a victim in this case- and that there was no evidence Ohtani knew anything about Mizuhara’s gambling activities or that his bank account had been accessed to pay debts. The interpreter abused that position of trust to plunder Ohtani’s bank account, a U.S. attorney said yesterday.

A statement from MLB said they are waiting until the criminal proceeding is over “to determine whether further investigation is warranted,” a statement said, via ESPN.

⭐ Place Your Bets at BetMGM ⭐

All eyes in the sports betting industry are intensely focused on how each of these situations plays out, with so much on the line.

“As a leader in the legal gaming industry, my initial reaction to the Jontay Porter news was one of vigilance and responsibility,” said PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel. “Our regulated market ensures transparency and accountability, allowing such incidents to come to light. The situation underscores the importance of integrity in sports betting, and as we continue to uphold these standards, we reinforce the credibility and trustworthiness of our industry. 

“Rather than seeing this as a negative reflection of the market, let it serve as a testament to the effectiveness of regulation in exposing and addressing such issues promptly.”

Mizuhara is expected to appear in U.S District Court and an arraignment date will be set there, according to ESPN.

19+ T&C Apply. Play Responsibly. Full Terms Apply. This offer is not available for players residing in Ontario.

19+ | T&Cs apply | Please gamble responsibly | This offer is not available for players residing in Ontario.

19+ T&C Apply. Play Responsibly. Full Terms Apply. This offer is not available for players residing in Ontario.

19+. T&C Apply. Play Responsibly

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Mark Keast

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