Day after a NY man charged in scandal

NBA advocates for federal regulatory gambling framework after Porter ban

Reading time 2:12 min

The NBA's deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, Mark Tatum, has called for a strong federal regulatory framework for legalized gambling in the United States. This comes a day after a New York man was charged in a sports betting scandal that led to the lifetime ban of former Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter.

Tatum refrained from commenting on the criminal matter but noted that the state-by-state legalization of sports gambling in the U.S. facilitated the detection of irregularities that resulted in Porter's ban and the charges against Long Phi Pham.

"The fact that we were able to look at certain irregularities in betting lines, and the data that we were able to receive from our partners allowed this to come into the light," Tatum said during a video conference call with reporters.

"We've always been, again, an advocate for a federal regulatory framework here. I think it creates transparency that we didn't have previously, which allows us to maintain the integrity of the sport, which is essential to all sports leagues."

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), enacted in 1992, effectively banned sports gambling in the U.S., except for sports lotteries in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana, and licensed sports pools in Nevada.

A legal challenge by New Jersey led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn PASPA in May 2018, citing conflicts with the 10th Amendment. Currently, sports betting is legal in some form in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

"When the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in the U.S. that really left sort of two options, right?" said Tatum. "Continue the illegal sports betting or it was to embrace a legalized sports betting system so that, quite frankly, we could identify the sort of behavior that this uncovered."

Online sports gambling is also legal in Canada, with Ontario opening its market to licensed private operators, while Alberta and British Columbia allow it only through provincial agencies. In both Canada and the U.S., gambling is regulated through provincial and state agencies, creating a patchwork of laws governing the billion-dollar industry.

Pham's charges are the first known criminal fallout from the Porter matter, where he allegedly withdrew from two Raptors games to affect proposition bets based on his performance. Although Porter is not named in the court complaint, the details about "Player 1" align with the former Raptors player's situation this spring. Brooklyn federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether Porter is under investigation.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace stated that the alleged co-conspirators and "Player 1" participated "in a brazen, illegal betting scheme that had a corrupting influence on two games and numerous bets." Peace emphasized: "Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters."

The complaint indicates that the player communicated directly with Pham and the alleged co-defendants, whose names are redacted. After the NBA and others began investigating this spring, the player warned Pham and others via an encrypted messaging app on April 4 that they "might just get hit with a RICO" — referring to a potential federal racketeering charge — and asked if they had deleted "all the stuff" from their phones, according to the complaint.

Porter's salary this year was about $410,000. The 24-year-old averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 26 games this season, including five starts. He also played in 11 games for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2020-21 season.

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