Northern Exposure: Raptors’ Porter Banned From NBA, Changes Coming to B.C. Retail Sports Betting

Each week, Canada Sports Betting recaps all the top sports betting and iGaming news in Canada and highlights upcoming events.

Our top stories this week

Event of the week

NHL Playoffs

The NHL Playoffs will get underway on Saturday, although the full schedule for the opening round has yet to be revealed.

Six of the eight first-round matchups have been determined heading into the final day of the regular season on Thursday. The Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are still battling for the third spot in the Pacific Division, so the full field won’t be determined until the early morning hours Friday on the East Coast.

Four Canadian teams — the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets — will be competing for Lord Stanley’s mug this year, with the Oilers having the shortest odds to bring it home around +700 depending on the sportsbook. The Maple Leafs, Canucks, and Jets already know who their first-round opponents will be. Toronto will draw the Boston Bruins (Leafs are +105 to win the series at bet365), Vancouver will square off with the Nashville Predators (Canucks are -150 to win the series), and Winnipeg is in for a tough battle with the Colorado Avalanche (Jets are +110 underdogs to win series). Edmonton will play either Vegas or Los Angeles.

Raptors’ Porter banned from NBA

Jontay Porter has received a lifetime ban from the NBA for violating the league’s gaming rules, the league announced Wednesday.

After a thorough investigation by the NBA, it was determined that the Raptors forward disclosed confidential information to sports bettors, limited his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and bet on NBA games.

Red flags were raised by sports betting operators and integrity monitoring services after some suspicious betting activity was detected on multiple occasions on Porter’s player props. The NBA determined Porter limited his participation in a handful of games to influence the outcome of those bets.

The investigation also found Porter had placed at least 13 wagers on NBA games this year using an associate’s online betting account, including one parlay wager on the Raptors to lose a game, although he didn’t participate in that contest. Porter wagered a total of $54,094 (USD) and the total payout from these bets was $76,059, resulting in winnings of $21,965.

Porter, who was on a two-way contract with the Raptors worth $411,794 (USD), has accrued an estimated $2.4 million in career earnings throughout his professional basketball career.

Although many critics will attempt to demonize the sports betting community in the wake of this suspension, it’s a good example of how regulated/legalized sports betting works and how leagues, sportsbooks, and game integrity monitors can work together to identify and prevent match-fixing situations. Many of these safeguards didn’t exist before legalized and regulated sports betting, leaving the door open to match-fixing incidents with offshore and illegal sportsbooks. Porter was caught in a timely fashion and many stakeholders across the gambling industry are commending the NBA for the transparency in its press release. The NFL and NHL have recently elected to not share the intricate details of gambling-related suspensions handed out to players in their respective leagues (ex. Shane Pinto).

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the regulator of online sports betting in the province, previously told Canada Sports Betting that its Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (Ontario Provincial Police) will be following up to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted with Porter’s situation as the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits cheating while playing a game or betting with intent to defraud someone. A statement was issued by the AGCO on Wednesday in the wake of Porter’s ban:

The AGCO is aware of the NBA’s announcement regarding Jontay Porter and is pleased the league has addressed the matter promptly and decisively. This serious case of alleged insider betting and match-fixing was identified because regulated markets, like Ontario’s, require online gaming companies and independent integrity monitors to actively monitor and report suspicious betting, which then allows sports leagues, regulators, and law enforcement to respond appropriately.

The AGCO requires all Ontario-registered gaming operators to ensure the sport betting products they offer are on events that are effectively supervised by a sport governing body. At a minimum, the sport governing body must have – and enforce – codes of conduct that prohibit betting by insiders. The NBA’s action on this matter speaks well of the integrity safeguards and oversight they have in place related to insider betting and match-fixing.

The Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) of the Ontario Provincial Police, an embedded division within the AGCO, continues to review the matter.

Changes coming to B.C. retail sports betting

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation will be modernizing its retail sports betting platform this summer, putting an end to the current Sports Action (like PROLINE in Ontario) system after 33 years of operation.

Sports Action will no longer be available as of May 26, but bettors can still redeem their winning tickets until their expiry dates.

BCLC says it will be launching a new retail sports betting platform this summer, but isn’t offering any specifics at this time other than the new platform being fully digital, putting an end to pencil and paper sports betting slips, much to the dismay of many baby boomers. However, the provincial lottery corporation is promising the new product will include single-event retail sports betting for the first time, improved odds and same-day payouts, and more betting markets. In-person bettors will have access to kiosks at select retail locations and sports bars where they can scan QR codes and purchase tickets.

BCLC, the only legal provider of igaming in the province, is also encouraging retail sports bettors to try its online sportsbook, PlayNow.

BetMGM’s Masters insights

This year’s Masters golf tournament was a big hit at BetMGM, particularly with women.

The sportsbook recently revealed in an insights email to Canada Sports Betting that it saw nearly a 50% increase in total bets for the Masters year-over-year with a sizable 161% increase in women betting on the tournament.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler had short +500 odds as the favourite to win the event just before the opening round last Thursday, and he went on to claim his second Green Jacket. BetMGM said 26% of the money at the sportsbook was on Scheffler to win the tournament.

“The Masters was a great result for the sportsbook,” said BetMGM Trading Manager Seamus Magee. “Scheffler was a nice winner on our outright book, and Tiger playing the whole tournament translated into a really good weekend in Augusta for BetMGM.”

During a business update earlier this year, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt revealed the operator has roughly a 22% market share in Ontario’s regulated igaming market, making it one of the preferred platforms by online bettors in the province.

Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid are just two of the prominent brand ambassadors that BetMGM uses to market its products.