Shaq in the NBA’s headlights after BetOnline link exposed

Shaquille O'Neal has been asked to cease his association with BetOnline.ag

FORMER basketball star turned NBA-pundit Shaquille O’Neal has been forced to sever ties with offshore betting company BetOnline.ag.

The four-time NBA championship winner has produced a podcast — The BIG Podcast with Shaq — since 2015.

Distributed by PodcastOne, one of The BIG’s major sponsors is the Antigua-based BetOnline.ag, a deal the NBA only clued onto after seeing advertising listing the betting company as a presenting sponsor.

GUIDE: BetOnline review

An online publication is reporting that an NBA official had confirmed that Antigua “was not one of the 50 US states” and would have to cease its association with the podcast.

The legality of offshore bettings sites operating out of Antigua has long been contentious, with these online sportsbooks even receiving affirmation they can market to the USA by the World Trade Organization.

To date this 2003 order from the WTO has been ignored, including not paying $21 million in annual remedies to Antigua, with it now an accrued amount of over $300m.

With some USA states now legalising sports betting and others well advanced in pushing legislation through the senate, it is imperative the NBA is seen to be supporting the local industry.

The fact Shaq is a part-owner of NBA franchise the Sacramento Kings and an employee through his role as general manager of the Kings’ esports franchise is not a good look for the league.

The NBA, in comparison to other US sporting bodies, has indicated a willingness to embrace sports betting, but boss Adam Silver has made it clear it must be on their terms and that appropriate compensation must be given to the league.

Shaq has long been associated with gambling pursuits, having been linked to online slots games and virtual sports betting in the past.

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