Northern Exposure: AGCO Looking Into Jontay Porter Allegations, NCAA Proposes Ban On Student-Athlete Player Props

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

MLB Opening Day – Thursday, March 28

Canada’s MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays, officially get their season underway on Thursday afternoon when they visit the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Jays are +115 underdogs at BetMGM and the total is set 7.5 runs. Roughly 53% of bets and 54% of the handle at BetMGM are on the Jays and 85% of bets and 87% of the handle is on the over 7.5 runs (-110) as of Thursday morning. Toronto has +2000 odds to win the World Series and its season win total is set at 85.5 at the sportsbook.

For those interested, FanDuel is also offering a fun novelty market on when the Rogers Centre roof will first open this year. Last year, operations staff opened the roof earlier than ever before on April 12 due to unusually warm temperatures. The previous record was April 16.

April 8-10 (Mariners series)+100
April 12-14 (Rockies series)+300
April 15-17 (Yankees series)+650
April 26-28 (Dodgers series)+750
April 29-May 1 (Royals series)+1600
May 2 and later+750
Odds courtesy of FanDuel.

AGCO looking into Jontay Porter allegations

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is looking into a serious integrity issue involving the NBA‘s Toronto Raptors.

Raptors forward Jontay Porter is under investigation by the NBA due to multiple prop betting irregularities relating to two games he played in on Jan. 26 and March 20.

Porter left the first of those contests with an eye injury and the second due to illness, which allowed the under to cash on his player props. DraftKings Sportsbook, which widely distributes daily sports betting insights to members of the media including Canada Sports Betting, reported on both of those occasions that his player props were suspiciously highly profitable for bettors. This betting activity triggered an integrity alert so now the league is looking into the legitimacy of Porter’s removals from both games.

This potential match-fixing issue is also on the radar of the AGCO, which issued the following statement to CSB:

The AGCO is aware of prop betting irregularities linked to Toronto Raptors’ Jontay Porter and of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) review of the situation.

The AGCO’s Registrar’s Standards (the Standards) include rules that Ontario operators must follow to safeguard against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other sports betting integrity issues.

The AGCO is currently engaged with all relevant parties on the matter, including registered gaming operators, independent integrity monitors and the Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) of the Ontario Provincial Police (a division embedded within the AGCO).

Since the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits cheating while playing a game or betting with intent to defraud someone, IEB will determine if any criminal investigation is warranted.

Sports Handle‘s Mike Seely wrote an interesting article this week asking why Porter props were even available on betting markets to begin with. Porter, currently on a two-way contract with the Raptors, has recently been thrust into the spotlight due to a rash of injuries on the roster. Typically, sportsbooks only offer player prop markets on starting NBA players and elite players coming off the bench who play significant minutes and draw interest from the public. Porter only averaged 14.3 minutes per game in January, and 15.4 minutes per game in March.

Porter’s salary with the Raptors is $415,000, but he makes less if he’s demoted to the team’s G-League affiliate due to the two-way nature of his contract. He’s missed the team’s last few games due to “personal” reasons and hasn’t addressed the allegations publicly.

Porter’s older brother, Michael, plays for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. He went on the record Wednesday night stating, “I’ve known my brother my whole life. I know what type of dude he is and I know he’s excited to play basketball and I highly doubt he would do anything to put that in jeopardy.”

The allegations against Porter came on the heels of another major gambling scandal involving MLB’s Shohei Ohtani.

NCAA asks for prop betting ban

The NCAA is making a push for a nationwide ban on college player prop betting in the United States, it announced on Wednesday.

With thousands of Canadians currently betting on March Madness college basketball player props, you have to wonder if the NCAA’s desire to squash this kind of betting extends north of the border to Canada at some point.

In Ontario, the AGCO has proven that it’s willing to move swiftly to ban betting markets, as evidenced by the UFC‘s recent integrity issues. A subsequent temporary ban on UFC wagering was also implemented by Alberta’s gambling regulator, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis. Ontario’s gambling regulator says it’s keeping a close eye on the player prop betting situation south of the border and is open to a conversation with the NCAA about the matter.

“The AGCO continues to monitor all developments within the sports betting community and remains committed to engagement with all stakeholders. We do not have any further comments on this particular matter at this time,” a spokesperson told CSB.

The AGCO’s standards have a clear prohibition on offering bets in Ontario on minor league sports, including Canadian major junior hockey, as outlined in section 4.34, which states operators can’t offer betting markets unless: The majority of participants in the event or league are 18 years of age or older; event shall be broadly defined as assessing total participants in the event/league, rather than in a particular heat, game, match or final contest in the overall sporting event.

It’s worth noting that the majority of NCAA athletes competing in most sports are 18 years of age or older.

New Canadian poll shows public displeasure with sports betting ads

Seven in 10 (68%) Canadians want current team players and celebrities banned from sports betting ads, two-thirds (66%) say sports betting commercials should not be allowed during live sports games/events, and a majority (59%) believe a nationwide ban on sports betting commercials needs to be implemented right away, according to a new Maru Public Opinion poll released Wednesday.

The poll asked a random selection of 1,534 Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada online panellists about their thoughts on the issues pertaining to ads and sports betting in early February of this year.

Some of the other findings include:

  • A majority (75%) of Canadians say there’s a need to protect youth and children from sports betting commercials/marketing as almost as many (72%) fears that many young adults will go deep into debt with online sports betting now available.
  • A majority (62%) of Canadians believe sports betting owners are not acting responsibly with their ads and marketing with most (53%) believing that sports betting needs more government oversight and regulation than there is now.
  • One quarter (24%) of Canadians say the ability to bet on sports makes them want to watch those sports more often.
  • One in six (17%) Canadians have wagered money on an online betting platform for a professional sporting event/game—and is dominated by one-third of young Canadians (33%) (compared to their older counterparts 35-54 17%/55+ 5%) and men (27% versus women 7%).

Sports betting ads have been a hot topic in Canada, especially since the launch of Ontario’s regulated igaming market in April 2022. Many Canadians have expressed their displeasure with the content and volume of ads since the launch of the market, so the findings of this study aren’t surprising.

Public outcry and concerns voiced by industry mental health, responsible gambling, and addiction specialists/organizations have prompted regulators across Canada to take action in the last year.

In Ontario, effective Feb. 28, 2024, igaming operators can no longer use current or former athletes, celebrities, social media influencers, and/or entertainers “who would likely be expected to appeal to minors” in their advertising, unless that advertising pertains to responsible gambling messaging, as per guideline changes to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

At the federal level, Senator Marty Deacon has also tabled Bill S-269 intending to establish a national framework on advertising for sports betting. The bill is in its second reading in the Senate and tasks the government with placing “reasonable” limits on sports betting advertising to protect society, children, and youth. A bill can become law only once the same text has been approved by both Houses of Parliament and has received royal assent, so the bill still has several hurdles to overcome before potentially being passed.

Caesars gets RG Check accreditation

Caesars is the latest operator to receive RG Check Accreditation from the Responsible Gambling Council, which is based in Toronto.

The certification includes an assessment of Caesars Sportsbook’s commitment to responsible gaming, including areas such as player and team member education, public awareness advertisements, and funding for organizations dedicated to responsible gaming research, awareness and education.

“Congratulations to Caesars Sportsbook for receiving their RG Check accreditation,” said RGC CEO Shelley White in an email press release. “RG Check is the world’s most comprehensive gambling accreditation program. Developed in consultation with policymakers, gambling providers, players, and people who have experienced gambling harm. It is also backed by rigorous safeguards that protect players and foster a sustainable player base. An RG Check Accreditation means Caesars Sportsbook has achieved the highest standards for their Responsible Gambling practices.”

The RG Check stands out as a pinnacle in the gaming industry and is known for its uncompromising standards and rigorous accreditation criteria. Receiving the RG Check validates sites or venues that have implemented robust responsible gaming policies.

Caesars operates in Ontario’s regulated igaming industry and offers players both sports betting and iCasino markets. It also operates a brick-and-mortar casino and sportsbook in Windsor.

The RGC hosted its annual Discovery Conference in Toronto this past week. Canadian Gaming Association’s CEO, Paul Burns, was one of the many presenters at the three-day responsible gambling event and spoke to the RGC Discovery participants this week about the CGA’s Action Plan for Responsible Play and RG Guiding Principles.

Photo courtesy: CGA LinkedIn.