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WaPo: Tennis Match Fixing Ring

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  • WaPo: Tennis Match Fixing Ring

    Two-part feature in the Washington Post on supposedly largest match-fixing ring in tennis.

    The maestro: The man who built the biggest match-fixing ring in tennis

    Excerpt: "That’s how Sargsyan had become rich. As gambling on tennis exploded into a $50 billion industry, he had infiltrated the sport, paying pros more to lose matches, or parts of matches, than they could make by winning tournaments.

    Sargsyan had crisscrossed the globe building his roster, which had grown to include more than 180 professional players across five continents. It was one of the biggest match-fixing rings in modern sports, large enough to earn Sargsyan a nickname whispered throughout the tennis world: the Maestro.

    This Washington Post investigation of Sargsyan’s criminal enterprise, and how the changing nature of gambling has corrupted tennis, is based on dozens of interviews with players, coaches, investigators, tennis officials and match fixers. The Post obtained tens of thousands of Sargsyan’s text messages, hundreds of pages of internal European law-enforcement documents, and the interrogation transcripts of players.

    Grigor Sargsyan built a tennis match-fixing empire, preying on pros in the lower ranks who struggle to earn a living from the sport.

  • #2
    Except : "The information on his devices would provide a remarkable window into what has become the world’s most manipulated sport, according to betting regulators. Thousands of texts, gambling receipts and bank transfers laid out Sargsyan’s ascent in remarkable detail, showing how an Armenian immigrant in Belgium with no background in tennis had managed to corrupt a sport with a refined, moneyed image.


    • #3
      Terrible news! No idea it was this big!
      Last edited by johnyandell; 09-07-2023, 03:26 PM.


      • #4
        Shades of the film 'Casino' where Ace (played by De Niro) started his criminal career (prior to becoming a casino boss) by infiltrating and corrupting the world of sports betting. The film was made in 1995 so the idea has been around for a very long time. Still works it seems.

        As usual these days, it's technology (mobile phones and laptops) that catches crooks out. Bin Laden - who escaped detection for rather a long time - used tiny written notes and trusted runners to pass messages around rather than use a mobile phone.


        • #5
          Betting has the danger of pushing tennis down the WWF professional wrestling path.


          • #6
            With the legalization of online betting in 28 states in the US and more likely to follow, all major sports are looking at betting as not just "a major" source of revenue but rivaling media as "the" biggest source of $. Jerry Jones of Dallas Cowboys reportedly plans to turn much of his multibillion dollar NFL stadium into a Caesar's sporting palace-like betting emporium.

            Sorry for the long post, but here's a good source and some quotes.

            Remember, the ATP reportedly gave IMG a $1 Billion contract covering data for betting. The IP rights to data is the planned tool for sports to get their cut. Tennis, which has done relatively badly getting media revenue, doesn't want to be left out.

            This isn't as simple as "what are the odds on Ben Shelton to beat Djokovic?". Prop bets are one key to big bucks. i.e. Instant betting during games/ matches. "Will XYZ kick this field goal, bets close in 10 seconds".

            If you've ever wondered why many tennis tournaments ban tablets like iPads from events, it's because of "Courtsiders", men who fly around the world being paid to deliver real-time data no tennis matches to enable live betting. Much of tennis betting -- and bribery -- reportedly goes on at smaller events, supposedly because bigger advantages can be found in data others don't have -- and players there are hungrier, more vulnerable.

            Controversial journo Ben Rothenberg won awards for his long-form article "Losers' Lunch" on this group back in 2018.

            Losers’ Lunch
            Dining out with courtsiders, a rogue, impish species in the tennis ecosystem.​
            Dining out with courtsiders, a rogue, impish species in the tennis ecosystem.


            "Though only the second courtsider ever arrested at a Grand Slam event, Piirimets was the eighth caught in the first five days of the 2017 US Open, according to the USTA—which prides itself on “vigorously combatting” courtsiding and was quite excited to alert the media to his arrest. Twenty courtsiders—17 men and three women (none American)—had been caught during the 2016 tournament, hailing from as far away as Sri Lanka, each thinking they had the skills to beat the system. All were given notice of a 20-year ban from the tournament."


            "But while a stock market’s data is open for anyone to transact with as best they can, tennis authorities want to make their market closed.

            “I don’t agree [that courtsiders] have a right to use the data,” Bill Babcock, director of the Grand Slam committee, told The New York Times in 2014. “Scoring is the right of the tournament.”

            That possessiveness would be unlikely to hold up in any court, however: Judges around the world have consistently ruled that the statistics generated by a sporting event do not qualify as intellectual property. In fact, even the companies that own data rights in a sport, such as Sportradar, also offer their services as third-party stats providers for other leagues in which they have bought no official stake."


            "Odds fluctuate constantly during a match, with each point causing some movement—odds usually shift massively after a break point in a men’s match, for example. For high-tech, computer-assisted gambling outfits, whoever knows the result of the point most quickly will know which way the odds are going to move before the market can react and, if they act fast, can take advantage of the (barely) outdated odds for profit.


            "A tennis tournament’s hostility toward courtsiding is similar to a casino’s hostility toward counting cards at a blackjack table: Neither activity violates any laws, but if the management frowns upon it they can make it cause for removal.


            Umpires have been paid, not to fix matches, but to slightly delay entering stats so that gamblers that got the stats immediately would have a betting advantage.

            "“The four umpires who have been suspended are alleged to have deliberately delayed the inputting of these scores, thereby giving gamblers, some of whom may have been present at courtside, 30 seconds to a minute of advance warning before the betting odds moved in response to the updated score,” Sean Ingle reported. “In some cases, the umpires were texting the score directly to gamblers before it had been officially updated.”

            One top chair umpire whom I spoke to who did not wish to be named said umpires sometimes feel a higher standard is placed on that task {sending data quickly} than actually officiating the match well.



            • #7
              Thanks for the Losers' Lunch link Jim. I have so many reactions to this I can't respond and may be over reacting!! Perhaps some Brits on this forum can chime in on the effects of sport betting, tennis in particular. Us Yanks don't have the historical experience yet as Jim indicated.


              • #8
                Originally posted by doctorhl View Post
                Thanks for the Losers' Lunch link Jim. I have so many reactions to this I can't respond and may be over reacting!! Perhaps some Brits on this forum can chime in on the effects of sport betting, tennis in particular. Us Yanks don't have the historical experience yet as Jim indicated.
                Glad you found it interesting. A neighbor was the CEO that took Betfair public, now merged with FanDuel in the US. So many issues there. The "migration" from "merely" letting people make money off picking virtual teams to betting was unstoppable.. It will take decades for this to full develop.


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