Sunday, 29 August 2010

and Pakistan had been warned about dodgy connections..

More and more evidence is coming to light in the wake of the NotW scandal. GamblerFalls' blog points out that Shahid Afridi warned team management of the characters involved getting too close to the team. And naturally, what did team management do? Put their heads in the sand and ignore it....

The evidence is pretty damning now. I'd be really pissed off if I was boss of a ground about to host a T20 or an ODI in the next couple of weeks. Ticket sales are going to be screwed unless they are already sold. All that effort going into securing an international match, hoping for it to fill the coffers and keep the business ticking over - all gone now.

so what now for cricket?

If the Pakistan spot-fixing allegations prove to be true, then there should be massive implications for the game worldwide. Players will no doubt argue it was supposed to be innocent and not affecting the result of the match, which as alluded to here is complete rubbish. The ICC have a full-txime anti-corruption unit who take particular interest in matches involving India or Pakistan, simply because of their closeness to the underground betting markets. Part of the programme is lecturing every player about the dangers of gambling and being involved with shady parties - not just match-fixing but any form of betting on a match, including spot-fixing.

The spot-fixing events in the Lord's Test are alleged to have been a precursor to bigger fixes, most likely a thrown game in the ODIs. The no-balls were used to show the 'fixer' had the players in his pocket and they were able to be bought.

This is where it will get political, as can only happen with the ICC. The traditional nations will scream outrage and want the players banned for life. The Asian nations will work together and only want to hand down pitifully meagre penalties, so as not to lose power (i.e. votes) at the board table.

If as alleged, the captain Salman Butt is involved, there is a genuine case for kicking Pakistan out of international cricket. I believe that would make it three Pakistan captains caught for their involvement in illegal gambling, and that's not including the many others who have been accused, with or without any more evidence than hearsay. For a brand new captain to be involved in it shows the whole system is corrupt.

Pakistan haven't done themselves any favours in this whole saga. Their national cricket administration system is a farce, the world has been prepared to give them some leniency as they play without a home ground as a result of terrorist attacks, and even more so with the recent floods affecting an area bigger than England. But any sympathy they have been shown will now disappear faster than a politician's pre-election pledge...

One question as more evidence comes to light and people are being arrested for their involvement. How can Scotland Yard charge someone with 'conspiracy to defraud bookmakers' when none of the bets affected (so far) have involved legal bookmakers, only black market ones in India? Surely there is no legal protection for illegal entities?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Pakistan cricket betting scandal - genuine or faked?

News breaking tonight of another betting scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team and the News of the World, an English tabloid newspaper. A middle-man is alleged to have arranged no-balls at specific times in the England first innings in the current Test match at Lord's, in return for substantial amounts of money. The no-balls in question bowled by Mohammed Amir were not even close, at least a foot over, which is curious, the one for Mohammed Asif wasn't so blatant.

But is it as clear-cut as it seems? For me, it sounds too perfect. Pakistan are easy targets - they don't have a great reputation for integrity, and linking it to illegal bookmakers on the sub-continent is the perfect modus operandi as they have no licence or audit trail. People say that millions get bet on this stuff, despite all sorts of previous allegations about these markets, but there's nowhere to prove it is true or not. Was the evidence shown to anyone before the event, or did it only emerge conveniently after it?

I just find it very hard to trust anything that comes out of the News of the World, and destroying the reputation of one outstanding young bowler to increase flagging newspaper sales I do not find beyond them. Their modus operandi of catching dodgy characters (Sven-Goran Eriksson, John Higgins etc) isn't exactly a secret.

There may be more evidence to show for it and back the allegations up. How bad were the other no-balls from Amir and Asif? Is there any proof that this meeting with the fixer was actually before the events in question took place? There doesn't seem to be any footage of the players involved in this, unlike the Higgins snooker case.

IF the story is genuine, then fair play to the NotW for flushing it out.... I just think it's a bit too well put together...

Match-fixer pockets £150k as he rigs England Test at Lord's

THE News of the World has smashed a multi-million pound cricket match-fixing ring which RIGGED the current Lord's Test between England and Pakistan.

In the most sensational sporting scandal ever, bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif delivered THREE blatant no-balls to order.

Their London-based fixer Mazhar Majeed, who let us in on the betting scam for £150,000, crowed "this is no coincidence" before the bent duo made duff deliveries at PRECISELY the moments promised to our reporter.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Golf bookies on alert as Ryder Cup wildcard announcements become imminent

A lot of this is bookies boosting their own PR but obviously there is some substance behind it. Any time someone knows the answer before the official announcements are made (Academy Awards, Big Brother etc), then there is always a risk of insider trading.

Montgomerie 'on guard' to ensure no Ryder Cup betting coup

Gambling fears prompts Europe captain to be wary of telling wildcard contenders decision ahead of announcement.



As if Colin Montgomerie hasn't enough to think about in this run-up to making his three picks, the Ryder Cup captain must also be wary of a betting scam staged by "unscrupulous insiders". A source inside the European Tour yesterday revealed the Scot will be "on his guard" to ensure his selections do not leak out before his team announcement here on Sunday night.

Montgomerie has said he plans to speak to all the wild-card contenders before the official unveiling, meaning many would inevitably learn of his decision while bookmakers are still taking bets on who will get the nod. Whether he will now alter this plan after hearing the concerns of the Tournament Players' Committee is unclear. But many betting firms are not prepared to take the chance.

"We don't want to leave ourselves in a position whereby we can have our pants pulled down by potentially unscrupulous insiders chasing a quick buck," said a Ladbrokes spokesman yesterday.

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Even the bookmakers who will take bets in the hour between the conclusion of the final qualifying tournament and Montgomerie's announcement will have their finger hovering above the "suspend" button. "We do discuss the risks about insider trading on these type of markets and our traders will watch it very closely," said a Paddy Power spokesman. "If there is any activity that suggests insider knowledge we will close or suspend the market immediately." 

It is a similar story at the spread- betting specialists, Sporting Index, who will also be keeping a close eye on who is wagering what. "We will be trading up right until the announcement, but trading conservatively," said their spokesman. "We would be able to tell by the profile of a client's account if anything unusual might be taking place. If, for instance, a client who usually has a smallish average stake size suddenly requests a bet far bigger than usual on the market in question, alarm bells would ring and we would limit that trade."

Thursday, 26 August 2010

South Africa steps back in time with online casino ban

In a move which blatantly only serves to protect the incumbent land-based operators rather than act as social policy, the Gauteng Gambling Board has banned all online gambling (defined as casino operations) throughout South Africa.

Note the name of the spokeperson quoted below....


Online gambling banned in South Africa



It is now illegal to gamble using digital products in South Africa, the Gauteng Gambling Board said after a Friday court ruling.

The judgement on the jurisdiction of online gambling transactions in the country was handed down by the North Gauteng High Court on August 20.


This means that online gambling operators in South Africa and players will be in contravention of the law, and according to Business Day, could face a fine of R10-million or 10 years in jail, or both.

According to the Gauteng Gambling Board's head of legal services, Lucky Lukhwareni, online casinos are now liable for prosecution.


How could anyone take a person named Lucky seriously, especially if they worked in gambling regulation??

Other reports (EGR) have stated that the ban refers to all forms of online gambling, but that would be even more ridiculous considering the sports betting licences they have awarded lately. Bans for online casinos had been rumoured earlier in the year so this comes as no great surprise.

Does it protect local residents? Not at all, it's not exactly difficult to find an online casino wherever you are in the world, although transferring South African rand outside of the country is often complicated. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

48 hours can only be a good thing

More moans in today's Racing Post from people complaining about a stack of non-runners this week, naturally blaming the 48hr declarations rule for Flat racing. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact it pissed down rain overnight or throughout those days!

48hrs gives punters and bookmakers time to do the form properly, rather than just a mad rush on race morning. The Racing Post published historical letters of complaint from when the rule went from 48 to 24hrs a few decades ago - people complained then too!

Also in today's Racing Post, on the same page in fact was a piece about how some trainers have been abusing self-certification (being able to declare a horse unfit themselves rather than paying for a vet) and how the BHA is trying to crack down on it. This is a significant factor which clouds any data about 48hr decs and the number of non-runners.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with 48hr decs is that it doesn't go far enough. It's like having a player draft but not having a salary cap - you must have other rules in place to go with it, namely a withdrawal deadline on race morning. I find it ridiculous that trainers can pull their horses out at any time, particularly because they 'have to inspect the ground'. That's the clerk of the course's job, once the official going is announced, that should be end of story.

The Australian system of a scratching deadline of 8.30am, with later withdrawals only permitted on the basis of change in the official going or a vet's certificate, works perfectly well. Everyone knows a deadline is in place; trainers, bookies, punters, jockeys etc, so markets and bets can be adjusted, you can change your travel plans if the horse you were going to watch is out etc. If owners/trainers want to pull out at that stage, no penalty (other than loss of any entry fee). Make the non-runners list available to all online immediately after the deadline.

I'd even go one step further, stretching declarations to 72hrs for Group I races. The field for the $1m Golden Rose in Sydney this weekend was declared on Tuesday. Plenty of time for exposure, promotion, form study etc. Sure there will be scratchings if the weather turns - but that would happen at 24 and 48hr deadlines as well...
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, 20 August 2010

Copycats-R-Us

You always have to wonder where the liquidity for the other exchanges comes from, there's such a big gap between Betfair and the others. Here's a prime example today that the chasing pack just link it all to Betfair via bots and bowler (beard) accounts.

Women's US Open market, as shown on Oddschecker. Someone has taken the bigger prices on Li Na, crunching her down to 3.55, showing no depth in the market behind the 55-70 odds taken. Amazingly, Betdaq and WBX can only offer such a ridiculous price as well..... what a coincidence!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

BHA leadership slaughtered in public again

Lydia Hislop sinks the boots further into the beleaguered Nic Coward of the BHA in this excellent piece from The Guardian. Plaudits for the paper too, for either having very astute commenters, or maintaining a very high standard of comments they accept - they all make perfect sense!

Cheers to Mark Davies for pointing this story out.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

if you thought the Betfair Front Room campaign was annoying....

then be prepared for a new onslaught of Betfair advertising....

Betfair set to launch new ads

According to online wagering firm Betfair's marketing team the latest advertising campaign is the largest the company has ever launched. Due to hit the airwaves in late August the advertising spots will run across the United Kingdom and Europe with the intent being to increase the customer base of three million that Betfair claims. A social media online advance will also be part of the globally comprehensive advert package. Created by Albion the campaign is directed at consumers who are encouraged to 'cut out the middle man'.

Jason Goodman, Albion London's chief executive officer, commented, "The betting industry is extremely competitive but Betfair's peer-to-peer exchange model makes the brand unique. It's this factor that Albion wanted to bring to life. Goodman went on to say, "In encouraging punters to 'cut out the middleman', this campaign uses the vernacular of modern, intermediating businesses that have thrived in the digital age by allowing their customers to go 'direct'.


Has the peer-to-peer message runs its course? The likes of BetFred and Paddy Power thrive by offering bonuses and specials that betting exchanges can't match because of the margins involved. Boylesports and Paddy Power both refunded bets on Dustin Johnson last weekend in the US PGA after the conversial ruling which cost him a spot in the playoff, exchanges can't do it as the layers certainly aren't going to refund it for them. That's the biggest challenge for the likes of Betfair as they fight with every other firm for the elusive recreational punters.

The television spots dramatise how a middleman or traditional bookmaker just is in the way which doesn't add anything to the wagering experience but annoyance. Scheduled for airing during sporting programmes and on channels such as Sky Sports, ESPN, Champions League football on ITV the Channel 4 Racing, and the Ryder Cup.

time for a clean-up

As is the nature of blogging, a lot of folks give up fairly quickly because they get bored, go broke betting or go insane having to rely on useless ISPs like BT. Hopefully those who have given up have only done so because of boredom rather than distressing circumstances.

So I've gone through my blogroll, added a few new ones and cleaned out many of the stagnant ones. A message to those I have kept on - keep on posting, or you'll get dropped off as well! :)

Monday, 16 August 2010

why does Irish racing even bother with stewards and starters?

Time and time again in Ireland, horses are allowed to start after breaking the gates and running a lap of the course (and then being so worked up that they have zero chance of winning the race). Their other massive blunder is starting the race when a horse is playing up in the gates. In the 6:50 tonight at Roscommon, The Silver Crown was unruly in the barriers, and was obvious for all to see. Barrier attendants went to the horse, the jockey was off the horse and needed time to get back onto the horse and into the irons. The moron who is paid to start the race pressed the button to open the gates before the jockey had even got his feet back in the irons. He was no more than 10m away from the horse in question, no excuse for not seeing it, and punters have been robbed blind as the horse is declared a starter despite having been denied a fair start. The horse jumped slowly and then the jockey jumped off after three strides because his feet weren't in the irons, a very dangerous situation for a rider.

You can view the replay here on the AtTheRaces site, free membership required.

It's brainless actions like this which rob punters blind with no apology from Horse Racing Ireland that make you wonder how they can justify asking bookmakers to pay more to funds Irish racing. It certainly isn't going to encourage punters to bet on racing in Ireland when they get shafted like this.

Extrabet for sale

When a spread betting firm makes a big deal about setting up a fixed-odds sportsbook arm, then wants to get rid of it, chances are it's not making any money.

IG Group to sell Extrabet

Financial spread betting business IG Group has recruited accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers to find a buyer for its sports betting arm Extrabet, media reports at the weekend have suggested.

Extrabet accounts for an estimated 2% of IG Group’s overall revenues, however the business values the division at around £20m, the Sunday Times reported.

Analysts have previously questioned whether the business, which suffered a fall in revenue of more than 30% last year, is worth much. IG Group and PwC both declined to comment.


I'd have to agree with the last comment. Extrabet's client list is common with the spread side of the business, and one has to wonder how many genuine fixed-odds punters there are, rather than occasional dabblers. Extrabet's sports prices are all powered by the powerful IG spread models, so removing the company from that would mean they'd have to start again, thus making the software redundant. So what is left of any value at all?

SportingIndex sold its fixed-odds sports section SportingOdds to Sportingbet several years ago, when the industry was less competitive and the financial markets more buoyant. It's not overly difficult to get a licence in the UK, so that rules out the advantage of a foreign firm buying the company in order to bypass the hassle of a drawn-out licence application.

£20m? To quote the classic Australian film The Castle, "Tell 'im he's dreaming!"

Money buyer seconds away from jumping off a bridge...

From the HeraldSun...

GET YOUR KICKS

IMAGINE you have a spare $100,000 and you are sitting at home on a Saturday night, bored with the world.

So to add a little spice you decide to give the $100,000 a bit of a run around.

That's exactly what a Sportingbet Australia punter did when Port Adelaide kicked the opening goal of the final quarter against West Coast to go four goals up in a low-scoring affair.

Taking odds of $1.01, he risked $100,000 to win $1000, all good if Port continued to dominate the match.

But with a minute to go the Eagles had levelled the scores and were in attack until a David Rodan point got the Power home.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

'Protection' of NSW racing industry is an outdated concept

The most arrogant state in Australia, New South Wales and in particular its Department of Racing and Gaming, has long had a policy of screw the rest, we will do whatever we like. Protectionist legislation in breach of the Federal Constitution, banning competition or technology from racecourses etc... Back in the 70s and 80s, these policies might have worked, but in the technological age, they are being shown up as using a Commodore 64 when everyone else is using iPhones and iPads.

NSW players under the whip and still looking for clear running

There it was, in the last paragraph of Tabcorp's full-year results flyer sent out on Thursday. Overall, the figures don't look good for the NSW racing industry. The push for a deregulated betting market must surely be stepped up.

The paragraph in the Tabcorp release mentions the impending arrival of ''cartoon racing'', which is about to hit NSW TAB outlets, but that wasn't the eye-catching remark.

No, this one is all to do with fixed-odds betting. Or as is the case in these parts, the lack of it. It is farcical.

''In NSW, the wagering business performed well considering that it did not have access to some of the products that are available to consumers in Victoria, such as Trackside and Fixed-Odds betting in the retail network …''

For the betterment of all concerned, Tabcorp should be inserting a rocket in the relevant NSW government regulatory department.

Betting in NSW is under siege but the players - the TAB and on-course bookmakers - are playing with arms firmly bound behind their backs.

..

This column has long argued for an open and level playing field. What is good for one is good for all. Why hamstring the locals with antiquated betting restrictions? The fence erected around the state to protect NSW racing's income streams is driving out punters, not keeping them in.



The NSW govt and Racing NSW are completely ignorant of what punters want, and how modernisation can improve the industry for everyone. Punters have worked out they get far better choice by going online, so now the betting operators who have stayed loyal to NSW and not moved to Darwin are being penalised by a department of numpties who still wear brown suits and drive Kingswoods...ra

next Aston Villa manager market

Just a short post to keep the site updated, so people don't think I've fallen off the face of the Earth...

I love Next Manager markets on Betfair, the fluctuations are all based on hearsay and rumours, so the moves can be quite volatile, which is also due to limited liquidity available too. Let's look at some of the logic behind the key men in the market:

Sven-Goran Eriksson: High 13, Low 2.0, current 3.0

One of the biggest media tarts there is, throws his hat in the ring every time a job comes up which might pay plenty. Did a decent job at Man City, but since then has been more of a comedy act. Still, it would be funny to give more ammunition to the funny people behind Special1TV.

Bob Bradley: High 15, Low 4.0, Current 6.6

He's American, the owner's American, so therefore he must want him for the job... Can't see it personally, would be a huge step up from anything he has done in the past, and I could only see it devaluing the club - which the owner would recognise as a bad move.

Gareth Southgate: High 40, Low 7, Current 20

Ex-Villa player, did OK at Middlesbrough with limited resources. Very few managers excel at their first appointment, did enough to show he has talent at the caper, but would he be better off going to the Championship for a while and proving himself?

Jurgen Klinsmann: High 30, Low 8, Current 16

Has played in the Premier League, was manager of the German national team for a while as well as Bayern Munich, and has spent plenty of time in the US, so should be known to the owner. Could do worse.

Martin Jol: High 42, Low 7.6, Current 25

Just pledged his allegiance to Ajax after almost taking the Fulham job, so why would he do an about-turn just a couple of weeks later?

Kevin McDonald: High 50, Low 10, Current 14.5

Caretaker manager, so always in with a chance. Must admit I've never heard of him before so don't know how well regarded he is in coaching circles. Take note of Betfair's rules on these markets -

an individual appointed by Aston Villa FC on an ‘interim’, ‘caretaker’, ‘temporary’ (including an appointment described as ‘to the end of the season’) or similar basis who remains manager in that capacity for at least 10 completed consecutive English League games (including over the course of more than a single season), will be considered to have been appointed as the next first team manager for the purpose of this market and Betfair will settle the market accordingly on that person.

I'd be surprised if AVFC took that long to appoint someone, but you never know.

Mark Hughes: High 75, Low 14, Current 20

Just appointed at Fulham, why on earth would he leave before the season had even started?

Alan Curbishley: High 48, Low 4, Current 34

Highly-regarded back in his Charlton days but stocks have gone downhill since. Don't see him as one to pick up a top-half of the EPL job.

Slaven Bilic: High 70, Low 8, Current 60

Bigger media tart than Eriksson, throws his hat into the ring every time a decent job in Britain is available. And still yet to be taken seriously by any club.

Paul Lambert: High 120, Low 17, Current 24

Took Norwich to promotion from League 1 last season, has impressed in his time at Wycombe, Colchester and Norwich. Young manager on the way up.

And then there's the news this morning that Steve Coppell has quit Bristol city, thus his name has to go onto the list, at least for rumours.


So who will get it? I don't know, but I'll be busy trading the prices as the rrumours keep coming in...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

no wonder Pod hasn't been playing so well lately!

He's still loaded after his prolonged success in recent years, but that's gotta hurt!


Padraig Harrington loses millions in failed business with Dermot Desmond

Padraig Harrington and his Billionaire Irish businessman Dermot Desmond have lost more than £15m in a technology firm, documents filed last week have revealed.

Mr Desmond, whose wealth is estimated at €1.4bn (£1.1bn), is regarded as one of the shrewdest investors in the business.

The businessman and the golfer, who finished second in the Irish Open in Killarney, yesterday, took the huge hit in a technology firm called Carthow Limited (formerly U4EA Technologies) in which his brother Columb Harrington was a director. It collapsed with debts of nearly £40m.

Gibraltar-based businessman Mr Desmond lost £11,918,811 in the venture through his private investment firm IIU. Harrington, who is having a mixed sporting year, lost £3,361,716.

The technology company is now in administration and, according to figures filed in court last week, there is only £250 left after £5m was paid to ‘secured’ creditors such as banks and institutions.



That's enough to take the fun out of life for a while...

Football's starting again.... did it ever stop?



Sometimes a decent break from the sport is good for everyone.... we're not likely to ever see it though....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Formula 1 preview - Hungary

It's a waiting game with this race - will the forecast thunderstorms arrive before, during or after the race? If they don't arrive, this will be one mighty boring race as it has as few overtaking moves as Monaco and Valencia. A little bit of rain-inspired chaos always spices up a race...

Read my preview here.

Darwin Cup

International racing fans might not have heard of the Darwin Cup, but it is a racing event to be cherished. Darwin, at the top of the Australian continent, has a rather unique culture (some might just say it's 20yrs behind) but that's part of the charm. At this time of year, there won't have been a drop of rain for three months and it will have been 32C every day in that period, give or take two degrees. Rather than a traditional turf track, the racecourse is an oil-based sand surface which suits local conditions perfectly - it handles the heat and also the heavy rains of the wet season. When I arrived in Darwin to work for a bookmaker, there were two days of rains which led to heavy flooding in Katherine, a couple of hours south of Darwin. The racetrack had no problem handling the torrential downpours - they were still running 1:23 for 1400m!


20,000 people squeeze into Fannie Bay Racecourse for the Darwin Cup, which is traditionally held on the first Monday in August. 20,000 people mightn't sound like a lot, but when the local population is about 60,000, and Darwin is a long, long way from anywhere, it's a huge crowd!

The racing mightn't be the highest standard (the Northern Territory horse population is full of cast-offs from the southern states of Australia), but the Darwin Cup carnival is a fantastic event with a very strong bookmakers' ring. The racing schedule is done right too, with the Cup being the last race of the day at 5.30pm, followed by post-racing festivities at the track - so there's no need to start ridiculously early like they do on Melbourne Cup day, when many are passed out by the big race. It also gives the crowd plenty of time to arrive, and recover from the previous night's hangover....

If you've never been, it is a fantastic event to attend. Can't wait to get back there again myself....

For those in the UK, Darwin will be shown on the overnight Australian racing coverage on ATR, but I can't guarantee they won't switch to the teleshopping before the Cup!