Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Spot-fixing - you will never, ever be able to stop it

According to this report, IPL tournaments so far have been rife with spot-fixing - that is fixing minor elements of the game - runs in a single over, number of wides bowled etc.

The curious part of that article is that the Income Tax department are supposed to have found these crimes. What idiot would be stupid enough to put down 'big wad of cash handed to me by bookie' as a source of income? Backhanders for sportsmen, particularly in a celebrity- and cricket-obsessed culture like India are not rare. They could come from anything like turning up to open someone's new business (not a sponsor, but a 'friend of a friend' arrangement), to being a guest at some devoted fan's dinner party etc. The opportunities are always there, and there will always be people trying to become friends with players and their entourage - that is human nature.

This form of match-fixing (and it's not really fixing a match, just a minor element of it) is very hard to prove, but also, very hard to disprove. If a team owner had an axe to grind against one of his players, what's to stop him ruining a guy's career by accusing him of dropping a catch or bowling a wide deliberately. The Pakistan cricket team now is plagued with allegations of match-fixing every time they perform poorly. They were utterly thrashed in Australia last southern summer, but because they got close to winning a match and then crumbled under the pressure (because most of their players are inexperienced at the elite level of the game), idiots back in Pakistan with political agendas accused some of them of match-fixing.
The Indian and Pakistani legal system aren't as rigid as the rest of the world. If such allegations were made in England or Australia, the people pointing the finger would require solid evidence or they would be facing huge lawsuits for libel and character assassination.

Do I condone it (spot-fixing)? No. Do I believe that it is as rife as the Indian tabloid media want to suggest? No. But the only way the game can be 100% confident of it not happening is when every player is quarantined for days before a match, without any form of contact with people outside the team. And that is never going to happen...

Sunday, 25 April 2010

lay that field baby!



Must admit I don't do this on Betfair too often anymore, mostly because work gets in the way, but partly because of the late non-runners which vary your prices (meaning you can't set up a bot to pre-load them all in the morning) and also I can't be bothered taking the stats I need to 'perfect' this strategy as I am certain that different tracks and different distances will work better with varied prices.

But today I felt like a dabble on the last couple of races and I had a vague recollection of some luck at Bath a while ago.

I laid all at three prices 2.58, 1.56 and 1.15 for varying stakes. The 2.58 level I like to use on bigger fields with higher-priced favourites (fav was about 5.5 on this race). The theory behind that is laying three horses at <3 will make a profit, but ultimately the profit comes from the low price. The small trade on Riflessione was just to be able to watch the live video.

Friday, 23 April 2010

sky starting to fall in on the IPL?

Lalit Modi is copping it from all sides at the moment. Allegations of improper dealings over the awarding of new IPL franchises, investigations into whether they've paid enough tax, I had a journalist contact me about the ownership credentials of one franchise investor who has alleged ties to betting, and now comes an investigation into match-fixing.

Even Allen Stanford, the jailed financial megalomaniac who set up a megabucks competition named after himself didn't have that many bullets to dodge!

My take on the match-fixing allegations which are published here, why haven't we heard any cry of foul play from legal bookmakers? Globalisation means that even if the vast majority of action happened on the black market, it usually finds it way somehow in the licensed betting community.


Either this bloke is going to have one massive fall from grace, or there are persons out there with some very big grudges against him, which often happens if you start crossing people on your quest to conquer the world and hog the limelight...

any truth in this Steven Gerrard scandal?

I was given this rumour last night and it seems to be gathering momentum by the hour. Now that others have posted it, I can avoid lawsuits by using words like alleged, and this story was sourced from the link below.....

Steven Gerrard rumours

Rumours have gathered pace this morning about Steven Gerrard allegedly (yes that's allegedly!) cheating on his wife Alex Curran with a 16 year old and getting her pregnant. To add to the sensationalism Curran herself has been (allegedly) cheating on Gerard with a Derby County player.

And as a result Gerrard will leave Liverpool in the summer for a club abroad.



If true, bookies can start rolling out England's prices - once again, an overpaid footballer with an ego the size of a small county has abused the right to be a role model...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

the Storm cop it hard - bravo NRL

Well done to the NRL here for having something most sporting bodies are too afraid/too feeble to have - BALLS. Too many sporting authorities allow cheats, or clubs which are financially mismanaged to the level of incompetence or blatant cheating, to continue with barely a slap on the wrist - hardly a deterrent for any other. FIFA and the Premier League - take note.

The Melbourne Storm, the most successful NRL team of recent years have been stripped of two premierships, several minor premierships, all points for season 2010 (gained and yet to be played for) and fined heavily for systematic breaches of the NRL salary cap over several seasons. The club was caught running a second set of books - one with the 'official' contracts listed, and one with the real values. It's not the first time it has happened in the NRL, although this is the biggest breach.



Melbourne Storm stripped of two premierships for salary cap breach


Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two NRL premierships and fined a total of $1.6 million after being found guilty of long-term salary cap breaches.


Storm go from heroes to zeroes
* Ron Reed

ANALYSIS: AUSTRALIAN sport has never witnessed such a savage response to an episode of cheating - and with any luck may never have to again.



For those unfamiliar with league in Australia, Melbourne were a club established in the 90s as the league tried to expand into non-league states. The pressure was on for them to be a success immediately. Players often didn't settle in Melbourne, despite it being the sporting capital of the world, because at best, and until today, rugby league would rarely get any coverage in the first 8 pages at the back of the local papers - it is AFL and AFL only in Victoria. Salary caps make it hard for any club, especially in the NRL as players are susceptible to bigger offers in the UK or from rugby union. But rules are rules, and there is no room for a rogue club in a league.

Rugby league has always had a rebellious culture, which is still seen with players thinking they are above the law and can be bulletproof in the public, like it was the 70s. Those days are long gone in modern society, yet still players are caught for anything from drink driving to assault in public venues to sexual assaults and drug trafficking. Common problems of that age group of society perhaps, but professional athletes have a responsibility when they have kids going to school wearing their jersey and their number/name on the back. Part of being paid a packet is for the sacrifice they have to make - cutting out the dickhead actions so people look up to them. If you want to be anonymous and get pissed in the pub on a Friday night like the regular workforce, then take up a desk job.

It's not just the players who think they can cheat the system though, obviously many of the administrators, many of whom are former players, still have their heads in the clouds as well. Player education and welfare has improved markedly in the past couple of years, usually as a result of watershed moments where someone declares 'enough is enough'. Maybe this is finally the time in the NRL when the penny drops for administrators.....

One question has to be asked - the man in the middle of this has to be former CEO Brian Waldron, who jumped ship to take over the Melbourne Rebels (rather fitting name), the newest club in the Super 15 rugby union competition, starting next year. What action will be taken against him?


Here's a detailed history of salary cap breaches in the NRL and quotes from today's events. (LINK FIXED)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

football high-roller service

I was recently contacted by a 'boutique' bookmaker who specialise in handling big bets, mostly on Asian Handicaps. This is not a mug high-roller service like Black's who will happily take your money, but show you the door if you turn a consistent profit. This firm, who I won't name publicly, are modern bookmakers who work the markets, hedging and trading in order to handle their client's business and not take enormous risks in the process. It can be done, just most bookies these days are run by accountants worried about the share price and can't be bothered paying for top-notch staff who are capable of dealing with sharp players. No account closures and no cutting back on bets. Min bet £1000 and they stick mostly to the major leagues, but that's always negotiable.

They have been around for a while, but have only recently taken up a UK licence. They are phone-only in order to maintain a relationship with their clients. If you are interested in being introduced to this firm, drop me an email (address below my pic) and I will put them in touch with you.

Bwin looking at South America

Europe is saturated, it's illegal all through the Middle East, Asia goes mad for it, North America has its hypocritical legal views about gambling which bounce around for years and then get banned in late-night votes, Australia is tightly regulated and Africa is too poor, racked by civil wars/corrupt governments and lacks the infrastructure required. So what's left for a gaming giant to pursue?

South America.

Bwin plans S.American entry


VIENNA, April 13 (Reuters) - Austrian Internet bookmaker bwin Interactive Entertainment (BWIN.VI) plans a presence in up to four South American countries within the next two years, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.



Had to happen sooner or later, a massive population, improving infrastructure and a few smaller companies like BetBoo have already led the way. If there are punters down there, Bwin will find them, although the government of Argentina doesn't have a very favourable opinion of sports betting.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Punchestown begins


The jumps season goes out with a bang this week as the big Irish festival, Punchestown, runs from Tuesday to Saturday. If you've never been over for it, it is definitely worth a visit, but unless you want to be stuck in traffic for five hours per day, book your accommodation early!

Today's action is a late starter at 15:40, and has three big Grade 1 races on the card - the Champion Novice Hurdle, Champion Chase and Champion Novice Chase. Like Aintree and Cheltenham, don't try to peak too early - it's a long festival.

For those who like laying the field on Betfair, it has been known to work well at Punchestown, but it depends how low you go with that lay price. There's usually at least one 1.01 that gets rolled for the week.

Friday, 16 April 2010

same old scratched record from Hills

In a week where the SPs for the Grand National were the highest for 20 yrs, and when politicians are talking about forcing tax-dodging bookmakers to pay their share to racing, William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping is rolling out the same tired old argument about layers on Betfair. Has he ever tried laying horses at several points above the SP? It's not a very profitable practice, and the select few who made it work have probably have given up due to the premium charge.

Hills and Ladbrokes have moved their online operations offshore for no other reason than to dodge tax and levy - and yet they have the gaul to say Betfair don't pay enough tax? Tax dodgers trying to dob in another firm who they think doesn't pay enough tax....

How about forcing these alleged bookmakers to lay a decent bet to all customers and to get rid of those thieving FOBTs? The compulsion to lay a bet may sound like pie in the sky but there are moves afoot in Australian state government to force bookmakers to do just that....

Thursday, 15 April 2010

float, float, float, float.....

Betfair have hired a Morgan Stanley director as head of strategy as the IPO gets closer. For them, the best thing that can happen this year is a World Cup with all the favourites winning, bookies taking a hiding and Betfair just laughing all the way to the bank. But can they have all the prospectus documents ready in time for a float this year, if they wait that long? This isn't the first float-related hire they've had, they have been making them since 2005 and the media still haven't tired of predicting when it will happen. Just get it over with....

Betfair IPO moves closer with Morgan Stanley director hire

Sportingbet are stepping up to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) from the Alternative Index Market (AIM) next month, a move showing they really have graduated to mixing it with the big boys. Their financial reports are quite interesting. Unlike the British retail bookies who were moaning about all the favourites winning and no draws in the early part of the Premier League season, Sportingbet's turnover on the big four football leagues is just 11%. That is brilliant diversification which makes them barely blink when results in one league go the wrong way for a while. A very enviable position to be in.

Sportingbet to cancel AIM shares ahead of LSE listing

UK bookies' share prices all lifted after Cheltenham, probably dropped a little after the National, they'll all be hoping for a big result at the World Cup.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

has women's tennis had it's first 'Davydenko' moment?

A rather suspicious WTA match in Charleston, USA, tonight, where Victoria Azarenka retired hurt mid-match. Was it fixed? Was it just punters with information? Does the WTA policy on compelling players to play a certain number of lower-level events and penalising them for withdrawing bring this on?

Quotes from Tennisform, a site which runs an excellent injury and information ticker (subscription required).


17:58 Azarenka
has drifted pre-match to 1.31 from 1.07 [125k traded]. EDIT: Azarenka went off at 1.43, with 168k traded, and continued to drift out to 1.65 before a ball was struck.

19:47 McHale advanced when Azarenka decided to quit with a thigh injury early in the second set. The Belarus drifted alarmingly prior to the match, and continued to drift throughout the match, and despite building a 6/2 *2/1 lead, she was still considered the underdog on Betfair, where the betting patterns were not unlike the infamous Davydenko/Vassallo match in Sopot. (Radio commentaries) "Azarenka wasn't making any mistakes in the first set but she played the match with her thigh strapped and called for the trainer at *2-1 in the second set. She began walking gingerly in the second set and decided to let everyone in the stadium know she was hurt." The match will be investigated and quite a few bookmakers have said they will withhold payment until it is cleared up. It's not the first time that Azarenka has been involved in a suspicious looking match. One or two bookmakers had cause for concern after her matches against Oprandi in Amelia Island in 2007, and Govortsova in Hobart, 2008. McHale 2/6 2/2 ret.


The pre-match betting tells the story. People knew ahead of the match, perhaps just from a public practice session. This was the same injury she retired last week with in Marbella - pretty silly to think she'd be over it so soon, especially with a trans-Atlantic flight involved. But the very suspicious part is that the market had her as the outsider even after she'd won the first set (assuming the comment was for all of the four games in the second set, and not just when she was being treated).

Let's see how this story grows in the next few days....

Sunday, 11 April 2010

video refereeing isn't difficult

After the debacle of the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley yesterday - Chelsea should have had two men sent off, John Terry's tackle on James Milner was a leg-breaker, but the referee could be described in no other terms as gutless. No balls whatsoever, can't send off a Chelsea player in a Cup semi...

John Inverdale wrote a great piece in the Evening Standard on Friday about how (field) hockey has introduced video replays in its elite club competition which concluded over Easter. It's not hard, it's quick, takes the pressure off the central referee and removes the effect of blatant bias or basic incompetence... or even the occasions they are genuinely unsighted. Hockey hasn't got it perfect just yet - only one challenge per match is a bit silly, especially if you get your challenge upheld, and in a game of rolling substitutions, only allowing the captain to call for it doesn't work as well as it could. But it does improve the game a lot.

Football - the 'beautiful' game, the wealthiest game, the most supported game... also the most stubborn game when it comes to bringing it into the 21st century.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

French gaming bills passes

So the French National Assembly have passed the online gambling bill with the remaining procedures before it is implemented merely a formality. But what is actually going to achieve for French punters and foreign companies?

It will be slow progress. Those French punters already playing with offshore firms will continue to bet where they do, simply because they will be able to get a better deal. Firms obtaining a French licence may be able to advertise locally, but if the proposed level of taxation and possible sports levies are passed, then firms will have to pass that cost onto consumers. If they don't, it will be a major cost against their bottom line. Firms such as Ladbrokes and William Hill are expected to take a patient approach, expecting the regulations to gradually become more competitive, as is the case in Italy.

Companies entering the French market will not be allowed to cover horse racing, one of the most attractive parts of the French betting market, due to government protection of the PMU, the local tote pool. Sport, particularly football, will be the main driver of business for sports betting, while poker and casino get a look-in as well.

The business partnerships have been coming thick and fast in recent weeks: Paddy Power have decided the safest option is to go B2B and have struck a deal with the PMU to supply all their sports betting product. FDJ, the local lottery and pools providers needed new sports betting software, so not only did they buy new software from gaming developers LVS, they acquired the company. The PMU struck a deal with PartyGaming for poker. Ladbrokes have struck a joint venture deal with the Canal+ media company for media distribution and an online betting service, following the example of Betfair in Australia, shared 50/50 with PBL, the local media giant. Mangas Gaming have signed a strategic partnership with the M6 media group along similar lines, and of course Eurosport have had a betting site going for several months, designed primarily to attack the French market when it opened up. And I'm sure I have missed some others.

So what will happen to other firms? Betfair have specifically been blocked by the legislation, but they are no stranger to fighting (and winning) battles in court. Read Mark Davies' blog for the latest there. The Italian government made a feeble attempt to block foreign sites without local licences - the result is that every punter in Italy now knows how to change their DNS server to get around the restriction. France will probably try it, but you can't stop them seeing foreign sponsors on football teams, racing cars, race tracks etc.

One thing we do know is that France loves being stubborn and not caring what anyone else thinks. That's admirable in one sense, but let's see if the modern world and EU laws will allow them to drag their heels for very long....

Thanks to France24 for quoting me in their article, although I'm not sure it's all perfect in the translation :)

Friday, 2 April 2010

$3.5m for a 2yo race - good or bad?

The supposedly sacred day of Good Friday to me just means an extra day to do the form for Saturday, and for Australian racing, this year it's the Golden Slipper, the richest 2yo race in the world. Worth $3.5m in total (equates to £2.11m or US$3.2m), it is open to all-comers, the best of this two-year-old crop. To put that in perspective, the entire Cheltenham festival was worth £3.4m in 2010.

Held at Rosehill Gardens in western Sydney, the race suits Sydney's impatient 'I want it now' and 'News today, fish and chips wrapping tomorrow' style of living. Allowing a horse to develop for a career as a mature racehorse, perhaps over distance, rarely happens. So the Australian breeding industry has changed significantly. Everything is now about juvenile racing, but specifically up to a mile, rather than a Derby distance which is more than norm north of the equator.

I'm not against sprinting, although I do prefer longer races, it's the heavy workload placed on 2yos to get them ready for the big juvenile races. So many of them are burnt out after one season and do nothing for the rest of their careers. And there are the really good ones who get whisked off to stud soon after. Racing needs longevity for the public to have an emotional attachment with the stars of the turf. Super Impose, Might and Power, Sunline, Northerly... they came back year after year at the highest level and the crowds loved them. Jumps racing in the UK captures this - Istabraq, Best Mate, Hardy Eustace, Kauto Star, Denman - they come back again and again and wow the punters.
Juvenile racing will never have the same appeal.

Of course the other issue with this big race in Sydney is that once again, it will be run on a heavy track. So it won't come down to the best horse in the race, but the best swimmer...

If you're a Betfair trader, this race will be worth waking up for. There are five Group Is at Rosehill tomorrow, all shown live on AtTheRaces, so you could trade the lot - but the big race is on at 0605 BST, or 1605 Sydney time. For a formguide, try the Sydney Morning Herald, Racenet or Best Bets.

Who am I backing? Not sure as yet but Chance Bye and Decision Time look over the odds.