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Faking Tennis

John Millar

Vance Hudson, Staff Writer

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When it comes to rigging sports events for monetary gain, tennis is usually far down the list behind classics like horse and dog racing. However, betting companies have been invalidating wagers on matches left and right recently due to fraudulent play, especially as large amounts of money pour in over minor early matches in a competition.

For those who aren’t familiar with the setup, tennis is played at competitions called “Opens” that consist of a weekend of matches where players progress through brackets towards the finals. Most of the recent controversy has surrounded matches very early on as large bets would generally not be made on a game with little significance within the Open as a whole. As a result, the companies that supervise the money coming utilize algorithms to detect when it starts moving too fast which triggers a shutdown of betting and refunds of all money already submitted. Rather than being a new problem though, the betting problems within tennis have stretched back decades with real action to address it just slow to materialize. In 2007 and 2008, an investigation was launched by world tennis authorities after allegations of match fixing on the official Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world tour. No action was ever taken against the players involved though so suspicious betting returned once again after the investigation faded away and the status quo continued along. Increasingly, the odds makers and betting companies are making blacklists of players who aren’t trusted to play to win so they can be monitored more extensively if betting picks up on one of their matches. In the past year, the match fixing has become an increasing problem and it appears the ATP will be taking concrete action for the first time. As a result of scandals across the sporting world being investigated by the very organizations that are potentially responsible, the ATP has decided to commission a London lawyer, Adam Lewis, to investigate the group’s anticorruption sector. Lewis is not a newcomer to tennis, however, having previously worked for firms involved in all levels of tennis governing, sponsorship, and player representation. Most experts agree this knowledge will be an asset rather than a liability as he will be able to concentrate on investigation rather than attempting to comprehend the complicated arrangements that make the sport possible. Overall, the tennis world hopes to resolve the issue before it turns into a circus the way soccer has devolved.

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Faking Tennis