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June 24th Tennis news ... Bet On French Open at betonfrenchopen.com


Online action warns betting watchdogs

The sophisticated software systems at major online betting exchange Betfair.com have again proved their value to the wider gambling industry by alerting tennis watchdog officials to suspicious betting action.

The Times tennis blog reported on the incident, which involved a first-round Wimbledon match Tuesday between 109th-ranked Wayne Odesnik of the United States and 30th-ranked Jurgen Melzer of Austria.

Betfair.com alerted authorities after the betting exchange staff noticed an unusual spike in action.

A Betfair spokesman said that the online gambling site saw six times the wagers it would normally see on such a match. “Betfair received about $980 000 in wagers on the match," he said. "The average for a first-round match at Wimbledon is less than $163 000.”

Odesnik, who lost to Melzer in the first round of Wimbledon, said he has no connection with an unnamed European online gambling site. Odesnik said he had never been approached about fixing a match. “I know at Wimbledon they have people in betting shops but I have no control over it,” he said. “I’m from the U.S. and if they have been betting on a European site I have no connection with that at all.”

The international tennis authorities are sensitive to the dangers of rigged games and corruption in the sport following the late 2007 gambling scandal in pro tennis following an investigation of matches involving Nikolay Davydenko.

The UK's Daily Mail reports that a single bet of GBP 365 000 is what sounded the alarm for Betfair and the Tennis Integrity Unit: “Reporting what they termed ‘extreme’ gambles on a relatively obscure encounter, they were alerted by a dramatic hardening of the odds in favour of Melzer before and during the match,” the newspaper reported.

Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, two other online betting sites, stopped taking bets an hour before the match began, citing the unusual amount bet on a 3-0 result.

Betfair spokesman, Mark Davies, said he doesn’t suspect any wrongdoing, but the serious money backing Melzer to win in straight sets was enough to prompt an investigation. The Austrian won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

After the match, when asked about the suspicious betting, Odesnik said he knew nothing of it, according to the Guardian newspaper. “It’s only my second time playing here, I’m young, I’m here to play,” he said. “I’m here with my coach and friends and I would never do anything like that to jeopardise my future.”

The Guardian also reported that Odesnik had been spotted the night before in a London pub (the player said he was there “for dinner”). But Odesnik confirmed he was not fully fit. “I had a little bit of an injury in my last grass-court tournament this year,” he said.


Online gambling companies prevail in litigation over FFT attempt to stop betting

The European Gaming and Betting Association has welcomed a decision by a Belgian court in Liege against a French Tennis Association complaint which sought to prevent online gambling groups such as Bwin, Ladbrokes and Betfair from taking bets on the Roland Garros French Open and Paris Masters 2008.

In three rulings issued this week in cases brought forward by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) in Belgium against EU licensed operators, the Liège first instance court rejected all allegations of the complainant, confirming that the operators concerned do not violate the FFT’s rights as the event organisers of Roland Garros and Paris Masters. Belgian players will therefore continue to enjoy this popular entertainment in 2008.

EGBA reports that the judge, taking into consideration the corporate responsibility of the EU operators concerned and the procedures in place “preventing all anonymous bets, ensuring perfect traceability” concluded that the operators had behaved in a prudent and diligent manner.

Moreover, the judge took stock of “...the various measures, notably for the protection of minors” implemented by Bwin, as well as its membership of “ESSA (“European Sport Security Association”) which aims to guarantee the integrity of sports betting offers and to keep sports honest and free from fraud”.

The judge also considered that the “...simple mention of the name of a sports event is a necessary indication for the online betting activity” which therefore “...cannot be considered as an act of parasitism since its sole purpose is to let the player identify which sport event to place a bet on”.

The Belgian judge ordered the French Tennis Federation to pay Euro 5 000 per case for the recovery of legal costs.

Sigrid Ligné, EGBA Secretary General commented: “EU-licensed bookmakers are professionals that have a high level of expertise, know-how and risk management skills. This has been clearly recognised by the Belgian judge looking at the fact-based evidence to dismiss all the claims in this case.”


Disruptive or disreputable behaviour can get spectators ejected

Disturbed by growing reports of disruptive cell phone calls and spectators working online betting on laptops and PDAs from the bleachers (see previous InfoPowa reports) the Women's Tennis Association is planning to tighten up on spectator conduct at major matches.

The WTA is concerned about the use of cellphones and laptops at tournaments to do live commentaries and instant gambling, and are seeking new ways on how best to stamp it out.

"We don't think it's positive for the image of the sport to have people feeding information out for gambling. We will take further steps to crack down on that," said WTA chief executive Larry Scott, without specifying what these might be.

Scott added that a tournament had the right to deny access if there was any behaviour they were concerned about or which was disruptive or brought the tournament into disrepute.

"The tournament can take a decision that someone who has clearly facilitated gambling, should not be present," he said.

The tour's new integrity unit is currently in the middle of a study. "They have been to several tournaments and are interviewing a lot of people in the world of tennis, including the media," said Scott. "They are going to put a report together on how we are applying the rules, policies and procedures and will make recommendations.

"In the meantime, there are a few steps that have already been taken. Someone was stopped from using a mobile for private dealings, and a couple of spectators were kicked out in Antwerp. These are interim steps, but in terms of sig- nificant rule changes, that will only come with the details and what outside experts tell us."

In a related story, Agence France Presse has reported that discussions have taken place between leading off-line and Internet betting companies and the UEFA chief Michel Platini in an effort to improve monitoring of suspicious wagers on European football matches.

Platini said that the Union of European Football Associations is looking to find ways to speed up an early warning system that gives soccer authorities information to identify people placing bets.

An investigation into suspicious wagers made on an Intertoto Cup match played between Bulgarian side Cherno More and Macedonia's Makedonija last July is ongoing.

"UEFA is continuously monitoring football betting patterns and it is clear that we will take the necessary actions in any cases where that may be justified,'' Platini said in a statement.