NBA bans Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter for life for gambling violations. GETTY IMAGES

An NBA investigation, which is still ongoing, found that Porter "disclosed confidential information to sports bettors" and "bet on NBA games" in violation of league rules.

Jontay Porter last played for the Raptors on 22 March, shortly after an ESPN report detailed the allegations against the forward. In a statement, the NBA said that Porter "violated league rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, limiting his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes and betting on NBA games".

It also stated that "the league's investigation remains open and may result in additional findings." NBA commissioner Adam Silver added, "There is nothing more important to our fans, our teams and everyone associated with our sport than protecting the integrity of the NBA competition, which is why Jontay Porter's blatant violations of our rules will be met with the harshest of punishments."

The 24-year-old, the younger brother of Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr, made five appearances for the Raptors this season. He has played a total of 26 games, averaging 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. Porter is the first NBA player to receive a lifetime ban for gambling since Jack Molinas of the Fort Wayne Pistons in 1954 for betting on his own team while in college.

The last NBA betting scandal came in 2007 when referee Tim Donaghy admitted to betting on games he officiated following an FBI investigation. He pleaded guilty to two charges related to the investigation and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Shortly before the decision was announced, Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke at an end-of-season press conference. He said, "We did our due diligence and none of us saw anything like this coming. You prepare as much for all kinds of situations in the NBA, but we definitely didn't see this coming. You don't want this for the kid, you don't want this for our team and you don't want this for our league."

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. GETTY IMAGES
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. GETTY IMAGES

In response to Porter's punishment, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) said in a statement: "Adherence to the league's gambling policy is paramount to maintaining the integrity of our athletes and protecting the future of the sport.

"The NBPA will ensure that Jontay has access to the resources he needs during this time in light of the NBA's decision. All players, including Jontay, should have the opportunity to respond to any allegations made against them. The NBPA will continue to provide educational materials to ensure that all players understand how to properly navigate the complex sports betting landscape."

Sports betting was legalised in the United States in 2018, although remains prohibited in a number of states. Last month, Shohei Ohtani accused his translator of stealing millions of dollars from the Japanese baseball superstar to pay off illegal gambling debts.

In the National Football League (NFL), Denver Broncos defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike became the latest in a string of players to be suspended indefinitely for betting on games last July.