An article caught my eye a few weeks ago about a man who was arrested in Australia after transmitting data electronically from courtside at the Australian Open tennis:
22 yr old arrested at Australian Open on gambling charges | Sport News : CalvinAyre.com
Initially I thought the issue was that this man was actually placing bets via a mobile device from the courtside, in which case he would be 'bang to rights' given the state of the Victoria courtsiding laws. However in a series of follow up articles, the situation is a little clearer.22-year old arrested at Australian Open on gambling charges
The first grand slam in tennis isn’t even a few days old and already, it’s already generating some off-the-court news on the gambling front.
A 22-year-old British man found that out the hard way after was charged at the Australian Open for court siding, a form of court-side betting that typically involves putting bets on point outcomes throughout a match. The unnamed bloke already caught the eye of police leading up to the arrest. According to the Victoria police, the man was already being watched by authorities at Melbourne Park, eventually swooping in to make the arrest and charging him with one count of engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome. A Thursday court date has been scheduled with the man set to appear at a Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Apparently the defendant hadn't been placing any bets himself, but instead was sending data back to a 'data centre' in the UK, and from there that information would then be streamed to customers that paid for that kind of information. So basically an arbitrage system.
Sporting Data Deny Wrongdoing by ‘Court-Siding’ Employee | Online Gambling News : CalvinAyre.com
A later article also goes into further depth about Sportingdata itself, revealing that some of it's founders are former Betfair employees:Dobson’s attorney Sazz Nasimi told the court that his client hadn’t been cheating but was instead relaying data back to his employer, Surrey-based Sporting Data Limited. Sporting Data describes its role as “providing sporting data and services to certain individuals” that use the info to place wagers. Sporting Data has acknowledged that Dobson is on its payroll and that it routinely employs individuals to attend matches and relay info back to its London office but insists the company “has never been and never will be involved in any illegal betting or any other illegal activity whatsoever and take a serious view of any allegations that they have.”
Sporting Data Founders Are Former Betfair Employees : CalvinAyre.com
It is a very interesting debate as well viz whether or not those 'edges' are legal. At the end of the article linked to / quoted above, there's a link to the sportingdata site which issues a general press statement and raises 7 points salient to this debate:Sporting Data founders Steve High, Martin Pendlebury and Simon Allen have been revealed as former Betfair employees by the Telegraph.
The Sporting Data / Australian Open alleged ‘court siding’ drama rolls on after the Telegraph revealed that the company currently under fire by Australian lawmakers was set up by three former Betfair employees.
Steven High, a former Senior Product Manager, Martin Pendlebury, a former Sportsbook Team Manager, and Simon Allen, a former Software Engineer, are seemingly using their ties with their former employee to exploit whatever edges they can find.
Now the big debate is whether or not these edges are legal?
Sporting Data Limited
The final point #7 above ^ is where the debate gets very interesting to my mind - it raises the question of why exactly relaying information about a sporting event should be illegal. After all it's only the same thing that live score systems do (think IBM at Wimbledon), and the same thing that the big sportsbooks pay a premium price for (no doubt at events like the one in question here, the Australian Open).Following a number of news articles relating to betting at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Sporting Data would like to respond to various allegations about corrupt behaviour. Sporting Data has never been and never will be involved in any illegal betting or any other illegal activity whatsoever and take a serious view of any allegations that they have.
Sporting Data has never been and never will be involved in any type of match fixing. We encourage a more proactive stance against those who are involved in match fixing. However, recently, one of our employees has been accused of the very serious crime of match fixing at the Australian Open and we shall do everything we can to fight this grossly unfair accusation.
We wish to make the following points and clarifications.:
1) Sporting Data is a company providing sporting data and services to certain individuals. Our clients use the information provided to place bets.
2) We have employees on the courtside sending back information to London and that is then used to place bets on the outcome of the match. However, the odds and stake of the bets are all determined by the individuals in London and not by the employees on court. There are plenty of times that they will send info back and nothing will be done with it. In no way could they considered to be betting themselves.
3) We use mathematical models to assess the probability of a match outcome. Bets will be placed when the odds generated by the model are significantly out of line with the market. A lot of syndicates use a similar methodology. Clearly, we need the most up to date information to generate accurate match probabilities. We cannot rely on TV pictures as they are out of date.
4) Most of the bets placed are placed on betting exchanges - platforms devised specifically for punters to pit their information and simulation techniques against each other. It is the tightest and most competitive environment there is and we have invested a lot of time and effort to become competitive.
5) We have no interest in corrupting the outcome of a match. We want both players in any given match to perform as well as they possibly can. Our models fail to work if the result is any way compromised and we would take all steps to avoid betting on any match we suspect to be corrupted.
6) The new Victoria State Law (CRIMES AMENDMENT (INTEGRITY IN SPORTS) ACT 2013) is a very good law and we welcome it. We want matches to be as straight as possible. However, this law is being applied entirely inappropriately here. As we see it, it is up to the Victorian Police to demonstrate that this sending of information in some way 'corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency'. In other words, that somehow, what we are doing affects the match in some way. There is no way we could conceivably be affecting how the match pans out.
7) An interesting side note to the discussion is that what our employee on court was doing is exactly what umpires do. They send information from the court back to other organisations that use it to profit from betting. In this case, the organisations are bookmakers and it is done through the tennis authorities' agreement with Enetpulse. However, the principle is identical.
Further educated views can be found in the following...
DW on Sport: The Courtsiding Issue
It makes you wonder if the only crime Sportingdata really committed was not paying the authorities enough money for the privilege of having a 'licence' to send the data 'legally' (perhaps that's a tad cynical, maybe even the sportsbook 'raw' / live feeds have to be time delayed as well).