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Courtsiders at the Aussie Open has nothing to do with match-fixing

Following on from my popular post What shits me about match-fixing 'journalism', there is another prime case of media reporting on an industry they have zero clue about.... but because they once bet two bucks on the Melbourne Cup, they consider themselves an expert on it...

It started from this - a police statement about a nonsensical arrest at the Australian Open.

Police have arrested and charged a man at the Australian Open for ‘courtsiding’, a form of court side betting that involves placing bets on point outcomes throughout a match.

Fault 1 - no it doesn't. It involves placing bets on the match outcome. There's no advantage in betting on points, bookies will NOT let you bet on the next point because they know about broadcast delays. They will bet you on the point after the next point - eg at 15-all, they will offer a market on the fourth point of the game.

Fault 2 - this guy would not have been placing the bets, he would only have passing on the data to someone else who would process the information and might bet on it. (This, by the way, is exactly what the chair umpire is doing on each court. He pushes a button which then sends information to a company which works as an agent for the professional tennis tours and then sells that information to bookmakers, powering betting markets, live scoreboards etc.)


Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said people needed to be aware that this sort of activity was illegal in Victoria.

You'd think a Deputy Commissioner might have a clue what the law actually says.


Engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency
A person must not engage in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency—

(a) knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, the conduct corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or the event contingency; and

(b) intending to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event or the event contingency.

Penalty:t level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).

Fault 1: There is no conduct that "corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency" here. Absolutely none. You cannot corrupt an event without influencing the participants or the environment they play in. There is zero evidence of anyone linked with this contacting a player or their entourage, and there is zero evidence of anyone influencing play by interrupting a player during a service motion, or digging up the baseline, or any other ridiculous idea which may affect the result.

“Victoria now has specific legislation that covers offences related to cheating at gambling,” DC Ashton said.

Well, he got that bit right, but in reality it is irrelevant here. The courtsider has had less effect on the match than any of the ballkids.

Point penalty for abuse of power.


Next up it's The Age, taking the police press release and adding more drivel to it...

Man arrested, charged at Australian Open for courtside betting

Police believe he is part of an Eastern European crime syndicate that targets international sports events.

A rather bold assumption, that's like saying every person who barracks for Collingwood has no teeth. The report clearly states the person arrested is a UK national. Now I know that the UK tabloid press like to push the panic button that eastern European migrants are flooding the UK, but that's ridiculous. Why on earth would someone who has corrupted a player sit courtside on a 40 degree day to watch it? Sunstroke aside, the safest place for them would be to get as far away as possible.


It is the first arrest in relation to "courtsiding" in tennis after state parliament passed laws in April that specifically ban the practice as part of a crackdown on illegal betting in sport.

State parliament passed nothing of the sort - the law, as displayed above, relates specifically to corruption and influencing the match itself. Nothing to do with protecting the commercial interests of the sport and its event organisers.


Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and Melbourne Crime Investigation Unit have been working with Tennis Australia officials to weed out people seeking to "disrupt and corrupt’’ the tournament.

What evidence is there of corrupting the tournament?

Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said police believe the accused man came to Australia especially for the Open.

About the first thing he's got right so far. He certainly didn't head out for the cheap beer!

He said the quick arrest should serve as a warning to other crime syndicates thinking of coming to Australia to corrupt the betting system.

'Other' crime syndicates? To have other crime syndicates, you first have to have a crime committed in a syndicate you have identified. There is no crime here, just an arrest based on a lack of understanding of the law.

The Metro, a free UK evening paper joined in:

Australian Open 2014: Briton arrested as police fear illegal betting syndicate preying on Melbourne Park action

The arrest is believed to be the first of its kind in tennis thanks to new legislation that has been put in place Down Under.

And hopefully the last considering there is no actual law to ban what this guy was doing. By all mean catch the crooks, but it might help if you understand which ones are the bad guys...

‘It’s certainly the first time it’s [legislation] been used in tennis in Victoria and I’m not aware of a [tennis] example anywhere in the world where courtsiding has been able to be dealt with in a criminal setting,’ Ashton added.

There's a good reason why nobody else has been prosecuted for it - it's not illegal! They transmit to take advantage of broadcast latency and then someone else processes that data to determine whether to bet or not. It is probably linked to a mathematical model (which many other advanced punters have), their only advantage is they get in a few seconds earlier, and thus gain an OPPORTUNITY (not a guarantee - these guys can still lose) to snap up better prices than what would be available if everyone was on a level playing field. Mathematical modelling works based on players performing to the best of their ability - it's what makes the models work so well, day in, day out. The model spits out what price it believes the market should be at any given score, and then if a significantly better price is available, it sends in a bet request.

Most of the illegal betting syndicates that profit from courtsiding operate out of Eastern Europe and central Asia.

Absolute myth. Courtsiding isn't illegal anywhere - there have been a few tournaments where persons accused of it have been ejected from the venue. If using the time to cover people who bet live from the grounds on any sport, then there are plenty in every sport with decent betting turnover.

Racecourses in the UK rent out hospitality boxes to punters who want a few/several seconds' advantage over punters at home. Football (soccer) has LEGAL live scouting services around the world, covering leagues from more than 100 countries. Many leagues actually make money from this service, again like tennis, from selling this information onto bookmakers. Bookies aren't sitting watching 50 matches at a time on a Saturday afternoon, much of the data is relayed to them, for a rather hefty fee I might add.

Betting 'syndicates' are not illegal until they commit a crime. There are many highly successful betting syndicates around the world that have no means of or interest in influencing an outcome, they simply have devised highly sophisticated mathematical models which they believe gives them an edge over the average punter, Mr J.Bloggs. Why is becoming organised and sophisticated a crime?

And then there's the rubbish spouted by Today Tonight - Australia's favourite gutter journalism TV show.... I'm not even going to go there...


  1. Great article Scott. Wonder when the Xenophon loon will get up on his soapbox ?

  2. Strewth, let's not go there. Hopefully he's melting under a tree somewhere.

  3. You raise some excellent points here Scott. Certainly nothing illegal about this behaviour.
    A huge media beat-up without any accurate facts.

    Let me play devils advocate here for a minute though :-
    Is the live scoring information considered proprietary to the organisers of the event?
    If the event organisers are on-selling the live-scores to Enetpulse (as occurs in regular tour events), is the courtsider grabbing this information for free whilst others pay a hefty fee as you mention?
    On this basis alone I'd imagine the patron would be contravening the conditions of entry for their ticket and would be ejected from the venue.

    But no grounds to prosecute watsoever, as no attempt to corrupt outcome of match as you mention.

    1. yep, it's a breach of copyright, but that is all, and getting police to enforce commercial rights is a pathetic use of police time. There are several cases at events around the world, mostly tennis, of patrons being ejected for it - a right the tournament has ( a la card counting at a casino), but not a crime..

  4. Even if it was an advantage good luck to them, Bookies betting In Run on "live events' on Foxtel have their own feeds without adverts which are 30 seconds at least ahead of Foxtel in Aus and SkySports in UK. especially for Golf events. If you want to bet on a live market and some punters have an edge on you its not cheating just maximising your chance of winning.... Typical un-educated article in age written by a journo without an iota of a clue of betting, the usual shock and awe headlines by the Fifth Estate

    1. agreed. Golf's a funny one though, broadcasters often have several feeds coming through and then they tailor it to local needs (eg showing more of their own players). But there have been plenty of cases of people in the broadcast van getting an advantage - Spanish football a prime example. The gaps have tightened up now.

  5. Absolutely spot on Scott, this needs to be shared wide and far. All of yesterday's "breaking news" reports brought back memories of the late government's bold assertions 12 months ago.

    As soon I heard the (mis)report, I tweeted the ever sharp Basil Zempilas to inform him that there is a difference between courtside betting and match fixing. Sadly he is yet to reply.

    One news update led with and spent most of its duration on the courtsiding story, and closed with a casual mention of an alleged pedophile being released on bail from a Sydney court.

    Hopefully kids around the country will sleep better knowing that a guy entering scores into a mobile phone is being watched closely...

  6. LOL. They are now running the line that he was working for a syndicate trying to take advantage of early drum on match prices. No clue.

  7. Dear Scott,
    it's not within my rights,having paid the ticket,to send data overseas..let's say to a friend..and exploit this "real time data" for PERSONAL betting purpose? I dont see any breach. It's my personal use. im not reselling anything. Im sick of these violence perpretated for years to us courtsiders. What happened at Ausopen it's insane(and well planned by ITF,TIU and local police...imho)but even been ejected from every tourneament(treated like criminals by police officers who doesnt even have a clue of why they are doing that....) just because im betting(in countries where betting is LEGAL)it seems to me a clear abuse.

  8. The battle among companies selling sports live data are getting nasty.............This is all on top of my head. Police, somehow, acts like a hired gun. Media is also in control of some wealthy man's hand who may also be in the business of this data selling battle.

    1. I don't think it's quite that bad Xidong but you are not far off the mark there! Police more likely to be over-eager to arrest someone on a new law they don't understand I think.


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