Suspicious betting patterns on mixed doubles competition prompts online gambling group to suspend betting
With media around the world focused on the Australian Open tennis championships following allegations by a BBC and Buzzfeed investigation that match-fixing is widespread in international tennis, it is perhaps not surprising that Pinnacle's action in suspending betting on a mixed doubles match over the weekend has attracted wide media coverage.
The online sports betting operator suspended betting 13 hours before the match between Czech Republic player Andrea Hlavackova and Poland's Lukasz Kubot and Spain's Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero, citing suspicious betting patterns.
Marco Blume, head of the website's sportsbook, told the New York Times that nearly all the money was bet on Hlavackova and Kubot.
"We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money," he said, adding that it was easy to detect abnormal patterns for such an obscure match. The anomaly was reported to Victorian provincial police, Blume said.
Giving context to the issue, Blume said, "These matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behaviour is very easy to detect on our side."
Because Pinnacle carries such a large betting volume, the website is a good vehicle for noticing such irregularities, he added.
Hlavackova and Kubot won the match 6-0, 6-3 in 49 minutes on Sunday, but Arruabarrena and Marrero denied any suggestions of match-fixing, explaining their heavy defeat by claiming that Marrero had a knee injury.
Despite the extensive media coverage, a spokesperson for the International Tennis Federation said there had been no complaint of suspicious activity regarding the match, but with the media publicity widening by Monday morning it is unlikely that the issue will be ignored.
The media reports note that tennis officials have in the past emphasised that unusual betting patterns alone are not sufficient evidence of match fixing. It is possible, they have said, that someone close to the players could pass inside information — such as knowledge of an injury — to professional gamblers, who would then wager accordingly.
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