Tennis in firing line again after ESSA report

Tennis in firing line again after ESSA report

Thursday, April 30, 2015 Totally Gaming
Some 17 tennis matches were deemed 'suspicious'

ESSA has revealed that it helped uncover 17 incidents of suspicious betting on tennis during Q1 2015 as it released its first quarterly report.

The sports integrity body said that during the three months to March 31 it was notified of 49 unusual betting patterns by its members - which include major betting companies such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and PMU - with almost 50 per cent of those then reported to the relevant sports bodies for further investigation.

Of the 24 passed on, 17 related to tennis, with three from football, two from table tennis and one each from ice hockey and snooker. Interestingly there were no unusual betting patterns involving cricket, despite fears over the ICC Cricket World Cup during the period.

The ESSA report - the first to be produced on a quarterly basis after its annual publication was scrapped - is the latest evidence of problems with match-fixing in tennis, which has seen a number of bans in recent years.

"Fundamentally, betting-related match-fixing is an attempt to defraud betting operators and their customers by corrupting sporting events," said Mike O'Kane, ESSA chairman.

"It is an issue that causes economic and social damage and that requires international cross-sector cooperation.

"ESSA and its members are committed to engaging with other responsible stakeholders to address this criminal activity."

The suspicions over the 17 tennis matches come at a time when a series of bans have been handed out to players relating to match-fixing, with Walter Trusendi and Elie Rousset banned and fined by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) in February and former world No.27 Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali suspended by the Italian Tennis Federation as part of an on-going investigation.

While ESSA would not confirm any of the games that had been reported to the tennis authorities, believes that one is the Challenger Tour RBC Tennis Championships game in Dallas in February between Denys Molchanov and Agustin Velotti, which saw a huge £600,000 (€828,000/$927,000) staked on Betfair alone.

A TIU spokesman told "As an investigative body, TIU does not make any public comment on operational matters; the only public statements concern the outcome of anti-corruption disciplinary hearings.

"TIU does have a Memorandum of Understanding with ESSA, which allows it access to betting information and alerts.

"However, that does not inevitably mean that a suspicious betting pattern reported to TIU will always become an active investigation.

"TIU is the sole judge of when an investigation is launched and will take into account a wider body of information and evidence before doing so."

ESSA says that a betting pattern is deemed unusual or suspicious when it involves unexpected activity with atypical bet sizes or volumes that continue – even after significant price corrections have been made in order to deter such activity in the market.

A betting pattern is only confirmed as suspicious after ESSA has made detailed enquiries with all of its members to eliminate any prospect that the unusual patterns could be for legitimate reasons, such as pricing the market incorrectly.

O'Kane added: "ESSA is a key player in the fight against betting related match-fixing. It represents many of the world’s biggest regulated sports betting operators, serving over 40 million consumers in the European Union alone."

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