Tennis tops roll of shame for suspicious gambling

Nearly three-quarters of suspicious betting patterns identified by a leading sports gambling watchdog in 2015 occurred in tennis.

ESSA has published its integrity report for the final quarter of 2015, which showed of 100 suspicious sporting events during the year, 73 were tennis matches.

The sport’s anti-corruption practices have been under the microscope following allegations by the BBC and BuzzFeed last month concerning match-fixing at the top level of the game.

Tennis’ world governing bodies subsequently came together to announce an independent review of integrity in the sport, which will be overseen by Adam Lewis QC and is expected to take at least 12 months.

Worryingly for tennis, more than a third of the suspicious matches took place in the final quarter of 2015. According to the ESSA report, 24 tennis matches were flagged up by betting companies compared to eight football matches, one snooker match, one ice hockey match and one greyhound race.

Suspicious activity in tennis in 2015 took place across five continents, including one match in the UK. The highest number of ESSA alerts came from Turkey with eight, followed by seven each in Tunisia and Argentina.

An ESSA alert is issued when suspicious transactions are flagged up by the organisation’s members.

Where evidence emerges of potentially fraudulent activity taking place, the relevant sports governing body is informed.

ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane said: “The start of 2016 has seen a worldwide focus on alleged match-fixing in tennis. The data contained in ESSA’s Q1-3 reports has been used to highlight those concerns.

“The data in our Q4 integrity report reflects previous quarters and, whilst tennis constituted the largest proportion of suspicious betting alerts identified by ESSA members, it should be noted that the vast majority of tennis events are fair. ESSA has been working closely with the tennis authorities on this issue and remains committed to working with all of our partners in sport.”


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