The NBA's deputy commissioner and chief operating officer says the league wants a strong federal regulatory framework for legalized gambling in the United States.

Mark Tatum made the comments on Wednesday, a day after a New York man was charged in a sports betting scandal that spurred the NBA to ban former Toronto Raptors centre Jontay Porter for life.

Tatum had no comment on the criminal matter, but said the state-by-state legalization of sports gambling in the U.S. made it possible to track the irregularities that led to Porter being banned and for charges to be laid 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," said Tatum 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 came into effect in the U.S. in 1992 and effectively banned sports gambling in that country, save for sports lotteries in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana and licensed sports pools in Nevada. 

A successful legal challenge mounted by the state of New Jersey saw the U.S. Supreme Court overturn PASPA in May 2018 because it conflicts with the 10th Amendment.

Sports betting is now legal in some form in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the territory of 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 behaviour that this uncovered."

Online sports gambling is also legal in Canada, with Ontario opening its market up to licensed private operators and Alberta and British Columbia only permitting it through provincial agencies.

In both Canada and the United States, gambling is regulated through provincial and state agencies, rather than through federal 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 pulled out of two Raptors games in Toronto in an effort to affect proposition bets based on his performance.

Porter is not named in the court complaint, but its specifics about “Player 1” match the details of the former Raptors player's downfall this spring. Brooklyn federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether Porter is under investigation.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace says 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." "Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters," Peace said in a statement.

The complaint says the player communicated directly with Pham and 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 April 4 that they "might just get hit w a rico" — an apparent reference to the common acronym for a federal racketeering charge — and asked whether they had deleted "all the stuff" from their phones, according to the complaint.

Porter's salary for this year was around $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 in the 2020-21 season.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2024.