Australian Open Marred by Match-Fixing Allegations
January 26, 2016
The 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament has been thrown into controversy following allegations of match-fixing ahead of a mixed-doubles match on Sunday which resulted in Pinnacle, one of the world’s largest gambling websites, to suspend betting on the game.
Suspicions were aroused on the betting floor when large amounts of money were placed on Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot ahead of their match against Spanish pair Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero on what would have normally been a fairly obscure event to bet on given the higher profile players and matches in the singles draws.
Typically, first round mixed-doubles matches generate little interest in terms of money laid down on the betting markets but more than $25,000 had been wagered on a rival sports betting website, Betfair, on this particular match.
To put this into perspective, the other mixed-doubles games that had been scheduled for the same time, had generated less than $2,000 in stake money combined!
Marco Blume, head of sportsbook Pinnacle Sports, said that his traders “have a very high sensitivity to all incoming betting” and Sunday was no exception as the large amounts of money being placed on Hlavackova and Kubot finally resulted in Pinnacle suspending betting on the match, despite Pinnacle reducing the maximum for a single bet from $500 down to $100.
Such are the measures in place at Pinnacle, that any betting irregularities are almost immediately identified as Blume explains.
“We run much like a stock exchange in terms of our day-to-day work” Blume said. “We see almost everything because almost automatically you come to us one way or another”.
Hlavackova and Kubot won the match 6-0, 6-3 and despite the protestations from David Marrero that they had thrown the game, but rather that the result had been down to a knee injury suffered by Marrero.
“I am professional,” Marrero said. “I try to make my best tennis on the court. If you see all my matches, I don’t like to pull out of tournaments.”
If he had retired mid-match or pulled out of the match before it began, Marrero pointed out, he would not have received any prize money.
The cynic in me would also point out that Pinnacle would not pay out on a tennis bet if the game was unfinished due to retirement or disqualification, and the original stake money would have been refunded.
At about the same time as this story was breaking, former Australian professional tennis player Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty to charges relating to match-fixing in a minor tournament back in 2013 while playing in the Toowoomba Futures Tournament.
A prosecutor told the court that Lindahl had intentionally lost a match to a lower-ranked player which had netted one of his friends approximately $4,000 in winnings as a result of the thrown game.
But it’s not all doom-and-gloom as the Australian spectators have been treated to some excellent tennis matches as both Men’s and Women’s singles are approaching the pointy end of the tournament. In the Men’s, Novak Djokovic looked good as he swept aside Japanese number one Kei Nishikori in straight sets in convincing fashion, while Women’s number one Serena Williams eliminated one of her most dangerous rivals Maria Sharapova on Tuesday afternoon.
It seems that only Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka can stand in the way of the respective Men’s and Women’s champions from lifting another Australian Open trophy each, but if you fancy a flutter on the outrights, then here’s a handy double for you which comes to combined odds of 2.45 with ComeOn!
Novak Djokovic to win the Men’s @ 1.55
Serena Williams to win the Women’s @ 1.58
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