An issue that came close to costing Toronto its NBA franchise over a decade ago has resurfaced as Pro-Line will once again make professional basketball available for wager.
The decision comes 15 years after Pro-Line was forced to remove NBA games to allow the Raptors membership in the association. Prior to the expansion team’s arrival in 1995, basketball was available for wager on slips, alongside other pro sports like hockey, soccer and baseball. The league was not about to waver in its longstanding opposition to gambling on NBA games, even if it meant pulling the expansion franchise.
The Raptors original owner, John Bitove, agreed to pay $5 million over three years to a new charitable foundation, and then $1 million a year thereafter. The move away from Pro-Line was met with controversy as much of the sports gambling profits — as much as $100 million — was earmarked for hospitals. It took three months of negotiations involving the NBA and the province of Ontario to resolve the dispute.
As part of the agreement the NBA also named the city of Toronto as hosts of the 1995 NBA Draft, where the team selected Damon Stoudamire with its first-ever pick.