The world's increasing interest in sports betting has pros and cons. Sports gambling brings more eyes to sports, as people put down action on games and tune in to watch their bets win and lose. It adds to the amount of sports content we can consume, makes a mid-season matchup feel like Game 7 of the World Series, and is an outlet for groups of friends to bond over a mutual pick. However, as with most things, there are some downsides. The biggest in recent memory is the uptick of gambling scandals, as we've seen two in the past month with Shohei Ohtani's interpreter and NBA youngster Jontay Porter.

Let's hope that no more scandals arise in the future, but until then, let's look at the six craziest gambling scandals in sports history.

Calvin Ridley 

Calvin Ridley looking serious

The first gambling scandal in modern sports started a domino effect of other players getting brought down for placing bets in team facilities. The NFL announced on March 7th, 2022 that Calvin Ridley was suspended through the conclusion of the 2022 season for betting on games in the previous season. Ridley owned up to the suspension, admitting that he bet $1,500 while away from the team in 2021.

An investigation discovered that Ridley bet on NFL games over five days in November 2021. The wagers included parlay bets on the Atlanta Falcons (his team at the time). Ridley was reinstated after some time away to focus on his mental health and is rebuilding his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jontay Porter

Jontay Porter is the most recent athlete involved in a betting scandal. The NBA announced a ban for Porter on April 17th, 2024. The league investigated Porter after learning about unusual gambling patterns surrounding his performance in a game.

The league determined Porter gave a bettor information on his health status before a game on March 20th against Sacramento. The bettor placed an $80,000 bet that Porter would go under all his prop totals to win $1.1 million. Porter played for nearly three minutes before taking himself out due to an “illness.” The bet was frozen and not paid out, prompting the NBA to start an investigation.

The league also learned that Porter placed at least 13 bets with someone else's betting account. The bets ranged from $15 to $22,000. The bets didn't involve games where Porter played, but he wagered on his team, the Toronto Raptors, to lose.

Tim Donaghy 

Donaghy resigned from the NBA on July 9th, 2007, stemming from reports of an investigation from the FBI. The FBI alleged that Donaghy bet on games during the previous two seasons and calls he made had affected the point spread. Donaghy admitted that the allegations went further than that, betting on games he officiated from 2003 to 2007.

Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges on August 15th, 2007. The court sentenced him to 15 months in federal prison. He was finally let out of his sentence on November 4th, 2009, after violating his release terms in a halfway house caused him to be sent back to prison. Donaghy received $300,000 to pass inside information to the illegal bookmakers. The aftermath helped the NBA discover that all their referees had engaged in some form of gambling. Despite the gambling not being sports-related, the NBA instituted a new rule restricting gambling use.

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara in Dodgers gear

It was an interesting time for Los Angeles Dodgers fans before the 2024 season began. The Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani's interpreter after the first game in South Korea after rumors of a gambling scandal went circulating. Mizuhara's name came up in a federal investigation into alleged bookmaker Mathew Bowyer. Since the rumors came out, we have learned that Mizuhara is also being charged with bank fraud. There is a federal criminal complaint filed that Mizuhara unlawfully transferred more than $16 million from Ohtani's account to pay off his gambling debts.

Mizuhara used his relationship with Ohtani to get credit from the bookmaker and access Ohtani's bank account. There was worry that Ohtani was involved initially, but it seems like Mizuhara is completely to blame.

Pete Rose

Pete Rose was among the MLB's greatest figures and a future Hall of Famer. However, reports began surfacing that Rose had engaged in sports betting during his time in the league. Rose received questions in February 1989 from Bartlett Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth about his wrongdoings. Rose stated that he bet on football, basketball, and horse racing. An investigation ensued, showing Rose had bet on fifty-two Reds games in 1987. The MLB placed Rose on the ineligible list in 1989.

Rose has continuously applied for reinstatement to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, the MLB hasn't agreed. Rose admitted to gambling on baseball games and other sports while playing for and managing the Reds. He has been adamant that he's never bet against the team to throw the game.

The Black Sox 

Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds on purpose. The White Sox allegedly received money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein. Kenesaw Mountain Landis headed the reformed three-member commission to govern baseball. His first act as commissioner was to place all eight accused players on the ineligible list. The players were left out of all organized professional baseball. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Eddie Cicotte, Oscar Felsch, Fred McMullin, Charles Risberg, George “Buck” Weaver, and Claude Williams were the players.

Chick Gndil was the ringleader among the players. He didn't continue playing in the major leagues after the incident, opting to play semi-pro in 1920 before the verdict. Joe Jackson is the most well-known, as he was one of the biggest stars. Jackson admitted to accepting $5,000 in cash from the gamblers. However, despite receiving the money, Jackson had a series-leading .375 batting average, a home run, and no errors. His part in the scheme remains the most controversial part of the scandal. Joe Gedeon was also banned, a second baseman from the St. Louis Browns who heard about the fix from Risberg. Gedeon placed bets on Cincinnati throughout the series.