NCAA Rethinks College Sports Gambling After NBA Prop Betting Allegations in California

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 31, 2024 08:00 PM
NCAA Rethinks College Sports Gambling After NBA Prop Betting Allegations in California

On the heels of illicit NBA prop betting for two games played in California, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is reportedly looking to ban these wager types on all of their college sports

There are a lot of moving parts here. Isn’t sports betting in California illegal? Why is the NCAA reacting to issues involving online prop betting for the NBA? What is their reasoning and concern? When could this new band officially be implemented? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Details are still trickling out, as all pertinent matters are ongoing. One thing’s for certain, though: It does seem like recent allegations of fishy NBA prop betting could change NCAA sports betting forever.

Suspicious Prop Betting Allegedly Took Place During Two NBA Games Played in California

According to a report from ESPN, Toronto Raptors big man Jontay Porter is under investigation after red flags surfaced for prop bets placed on his statistical performance ahead of a January 26 outing against the Los Angeles Clippers and then a March 20 tilt versus the Sacramento Kings

Apparently, multiple online sportsbooks based in the United States noticed an influx of money invested in his stat-line “unders” for both games. Porter ended up leaving each contest after barely playing, which meant those “under” bets paid out. Here are the full details, as relayed by ESPN’s David Purdum, Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski:

“In the game on Jan. 26 against the LA Clippers, there was increased betting interest on the under for Porter props, which for the night were set at around 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists…That evening, Porter played just four minutes before leaving the game because of what the Raptors said was an aggravation of an eye injury he had suffered four days earlier against the Memphis Grizzlies. Porter did not score against the Clippers but had three rebounds and one assist, and he did not attempt a 3, meaning the under hit on all of the props.The next day, as part of a daily report to users on betting results, DraftKings Sportsbook stated that the under on Porter's 3-pointers was the biggest money winner for bettors of any NBA player props from games that evening.

“On March 20 against the Sacramento Kings, Porter played just three minutes before exiting because of what the Raptors said was an illness and did not return. He did not score after attempting one shot and had two rebounds. The next day, DraftKings Sportsbook reported in a media release that Porter's prop bets were the No. 1 moneymaker from the night in the NBA. At least one other U.S. sportsbook detected unusual betting interest on the Porter props in the games in question. A sportsbook industry source told ESPN that multiple betting accounts attempted to bet large amounts, upward of $10,000 and $20,000, on Porter unders in the January game against the Clippers. Betting limits on NBA player props vary by sportsbook and customer but are typically around $1,000 to $2,000.”

At present, the NBA has yet to announce the results of their investigation. However, Porter remains inactive for the Raptors.

NCAA Looking to Ban Prop Bets on College Sports Athletes

Shortly following the above California prop betting incident, the NCAA president, Charlie Baker, turned heads with a landmark announcement. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski relayed the details:

NCAA president Charlie Baker says the organization is working to ban prop bets on college athletes across betting markets. Baker says the NCAA is contacting officials in states still allowing prop bets on college sports and asking them to join with several states that have banned them. ‘Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed."

To date, it remains unclear how many states will issue bans on NCAA prop betting. But Baker’s sentiments, while pointed, are not particularly surprising.

Though we remain short on allegations like those levied against Jontay Porter prop bets, there has been an uptick in what many would call “scandals.” This includes at the college level. Late last year, for instance, there was a massive investigation involving members of the Alabama baseball staff. We have also seen the NFL suspend multiple players for sports betting violations. Critically, it must be noted none of these suspensions were for bets placed on the players’ own games or teams. But if the Porter allegations prove true, it opens up another can of worms.

Harassment Looms Large in the Future of Prop Betting in the United States

Don’t underestimate the athlete safety element of this issue, either. Both pro and college athletes are on record talking about how fans will verbally accost them from the stands and on social media for adversely impacting their parlays. 

What’s more, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff recently explained how he ended up contacting him directly and threatening the safety of him and his family—because of failed bets involving the Cavs. 

This is all a slippery slope. And while it doesn’t put general online sports betting in the United States at risk of availability, player prop betting is a different story. Since those wagers directly apply to individuals, they are more likely to get harassed when bettors experience unfavorable outcomes. 

Therefore, it would not surprise us if the banning of prop betting on college sports players becomes the standard across the United States. Heck, it wouldn’t shock us if pro sports leagues like the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, etc. follow suit. Although, this is substantially less likely given that pro athletes are lucratively paid and team owners will argue harassment is part of that compensation.

Is that a fair stance? Not at all. There should at least be a happy prop betting middle ground across all levels of sports. However, it does seem certain that NCAA prop betting may never be the same. And not just long term, but immediately.   

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read more here.