Easier betting has sports worried about fighting fixed games

OCEANPORT, N.J. — It’s early in a college basketball game and Team A, playing methodically and using up most of the 30-second shot clock, falls behind 10-6. Scattered around the bleachers, several fans staring at their smartphones celebrate silently: they have bet on Team B to be the first to reach 10 points and even promised two Team A starters a cut of the winnings.

With dozens of states rushing to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court lifting a federal ban on sports gambling, will fixed scenarios like the one above become more common?

The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA think so, and have argued for years that expanding legal betting will lead to more game-fixing. The pro leagues have sought, unsuccessfully so far, a cut of state gambling revenues to increase monitoring.

Meanwhile, architects of New Jersey’s successful legal challenge to the sports gambling ban say those fears are overstated and that bringing sports betting out of the shadows will make it easier to detect illegal activity. They point to the Arizona State basketball point-shaving scandal in the 1990s, which was uncovered after legal bookmakers in Las Vegas noticed unusually large sums being wagered on Sun Devils games.

Yet the prospect of easy, legal access to sports gambling for athletes and others has many in sports concerned.

“They’re going to create a bigger pool for more kids and for more money to get involved,” said Jamall Anderson, a running back on the 1996 Boston College football team whose players were found to have bet against their own team. “It’s really going to create a big mess, I think.”

Targeting college athletes

College athletes are generally considered easier to convince than pros to influence games. Two reasons: they are younger and aren’t paid directly to play.

They also aren’t strangers to wagering.

A 2016 NCAA survey of more than 22,000 college athletes found nearly one-fourth of male athletes had violated NCAA rules by gambling on sports within the previous year. When the survey was done, sports betting was available only in Nevada or illegally through offshore operators.

It was another number that surprised the authors: 13 percent of the male athletes who had gambled on sports had wagered on in-game bets, things like whether the next football play will be a run or a pass or of a basketball player will hit the next free throw.

“We continue to have concerns that wagering enhancements such as live in-game betting could present increased opportunities to profit from ‘spot fixing’ a contest as has been uncovered recently in a number of international sports leagues,” the study concluded.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and other athletic department employees from gambling on sports.

Individual schools make sure athletes know the rules against gambling, sometimes bringing in law enforcement officials or former players to get the message across.

Will it be enough as laws change?

Legal sports gambling was the No. 1 topic for every conference meeting this spring, said Bob Vecchione, head of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.

“Do you remember back when you were 18 to 20 years of age?” said Vecchione, the Minnesota athletic director. “When people told you something, how much did it sink in? That’s what causes some sleepless nights.”

NCAA officials have said they may consider adjusting rules to account for legal gambling but haven’t specified how.

Insider bets

Anderson recounted his experiences in the Boston College football scandal in a 2016 book, “The Best Bet.” In a recent interview, he described a culture in which gambling was part of the daily routine.

“You went to practice and you got your spreadsheet in the locker room,” he said. “It was nothing to sit there on the sidelines and say, ‘Who you got this week?’ That’s what you do. You’re playing football, watching ESPN, seeing other teams and you’re totally engaged. It was too easy.”

While no players were alleged to have compromised their performances in games, Anderson — who was injured and did not play during the 1996 season — and other players incurred debts betting on other sports and tried to recoup their losses. Some bet against BC against Syracuse and star quarterback Donovan McNabb. Thirteen players were suspended.

Rutgers athletic director Patrick Hobbs had a front-row seat to New Jersey’s successful challenge to the 1992 federal sports betting ban. Now, New Jersey sports books are prohibited from taking wagers on college games played in the state or involving schools from the state.

With inside information being so key to betting markets, any tidbit — say, a student telling friends that his roommate, the star quarterback, just had a fight with his girlfriend — can take on greater significance.

That highlights the need for more education, Hobbs said.

“We’ll educate on a variety of scenarios and hypotheticals, and say, ‘Hey look, this may have sounded like an innocent question in the past, but now you have to be careful with that information,’” Hobbs said.

Current enforcement

Proponents of legal sports gambling often point to Nevada as a model for effective monitoring. Sports betting has been legal in Las Vegas in some form since the 1930s.

If regulators there are notified of suspicious betting activity, agents from the Nevada Gaming Control Board can open an investigation or work with federal and local authorities if it involves multiple jurisdictions.

Karl Bennison, the board’s chief of enforcement, said board agents also meet and work with professional leagues, teams, the NCAA, conferences, universities and sports associations, including the International Olympic Committee, to discuss and educate athletes, coaches and others on integrity matters and illegal activity.

Reports from oddsmakers in Las Vegas have played key roles in the uncovering of illegal sports betting schemes, including the case involving two Arizona State basketball players fixing four games during the 1993-94 season.

Stevin “Hedake” Smith and Isaac Burton Jr. admitted to shaving points — purposely holding the score down with mistakes or missed shots — for $20,000 per game. They were partly trying to erase a reported $10,000 gambling debt to a fellow student who also booked bets.

Las Vegas bookmakers reported suspicious betting activity when gamblers placed about $900,000 in bets against Arizona State on a meaningless contest against Washington. The heavy betting caused sports books to change Arizona State from a 10 ½-point favorite to a 3-point favorite.

“You might write $30,000 or $40,000 total on both sides of that game under normal conditions,” Jimmy Vaccaro, then-sports book director at Mirage Resorts, told The Associated Press. “We wrote $560,000 on that game. The people thought the fix was in and ended up blowing their money.”

Scandals like that are rare, but sports book operators say other situations could raise red flags, such as a bettor refusing to show an ID when trying to place a bet, or attempting to place large bets without a prior history with a particular casino.

Jay Kornegay, sports book director at the Westgate Las Vegas, said that in those instances, the books would look at what happened in that game, including suspicious plays and performances. If the oddsmakers think something is going on, they can refer it to regulators.

Outside the United States

Legal sports betting has been a part of the landscape abroad for years, and so have gambling-related scandals.

Authorities have busted soccer match-fixing rings in Greece, Spain and eastern Europe in recent years. FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, recently banned a Ghanaian referee for life for his questionable calls during a World Cup qualifying game in 2016; in April, four South African match officials reported being offered $30,000 to fix an international club game in Nigeria.

The sport most susceptible to match-fixing or manipulation, however, may be tennis. A report published in April by an independent panel found “betting-related corruption and other breaches of integrity have taken firm root” in the sport, particularly in the lower and middle levels of the men’s game.

The report cited the sheer number of matches worldwide — 115,000, it estimated — many featuring little-known players and lax monitoring. It also pointed to a decision several years ago by pro tours to sell live scoring data, which created more opportunities for legal sports books to offer in-game wagering.

In the four months since the report was issued, several men’s players have been suspended, two for life, and authorities in Belgium detained more than a dozen people on suspicion of fixing tennis matches.

The suspensions grew out of investigations by the Tennis Integrity Unit, formed by the sport’s governing bodies in 2009.

Joe Asher, chief executive of London-based bookmaker William Hill, said many scandals would stay in the shadows if bets are placed illegally.

“The illegal bookie isn’t picking up the phone and calling the FBI, he’s just going to try to get on the same side of the bet,” Asher said. “So that’s the difference between the black market and the legal market that exists today.”

Garcia-Cano reported from Las Vegas.

ad-high_impact_4
Sports Betting Spotlight Videos
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 12
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart, and John Lukasik discuss their picks for College Football Week 12.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 11
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart, and John Lukasik discuss their picks for NFL Week 11.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 10
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart, and John Lukasik break down the NFL Week 10 slate.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 11
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart, and John Lukasik break down college football week 11 match ups.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 9
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 9 of the NFL football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 10
Description: Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 10 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 8
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 8 of the NFL football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 9
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 9 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 8
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 8 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 7
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 7 of the NFL football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 7
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 7 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 6
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 6 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 5
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and John Lukasik pick their best bets for week 5 of the NFL football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 5
Todd Dewey and John Lukasik go over their picks for week five of college football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 4
Todd Dewey and John Lukasik go over their picks for week four of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 4
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and The Cromwell sports book director, John Lukasik go over their picks for week four of college football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 3
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and The Cromwell sports book director, John Lukasik go over their picks for week three of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Canelo vs. GGG
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and The Linq Hotel sports book director, John Lukasik go over the lines and their picks for Canelo vs. GGG 2.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 3
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and The Linq Hotel sports book director, John Lukasik go over their picks for week three of college football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 2
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and The Linq Hotel sports book director, John Lukasik go over their picks for week two of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 1
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Matt Holt go over their picks for week one of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 2
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and USIntegrity president Matt Holt goes over their picks for week two of college football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: New York Giants
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 New York Giants season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: New York Giants
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 New York Giants season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Buffalo Bills
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 Buffalo Bills season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: New York Jets
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 New York Jets season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Miami Dolphins
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 Miami Dolphins season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Atlanta Falcons
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello go over how the Atlanta Falcons will perform in the 2018 season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Carolina Panthers
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello go over how the Carolina Panthers will perform in the 2018 season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: New England Patriots
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito go over the lines for the 2018 New England Patriots season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Description: Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello go over how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will perform in the 2018 season.
Business
Mecum Car Auction in Las Vegas
The Mecum Auctions is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Construction underway for new Google Data Center
Henderson is slated to be home to a new Google data center in December 2020. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development approved $25.2 million in tax abatements for Design LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google. The company plans to build the data center on 64 acres of land on Warm Springs Road west of Boulder Highway.
Anthony Rufo talks about his new product, an in-home digital companion and monitor.
Anthony Rufo talks about his new product, HAPPIE Home technology, an in-home digital companion and monitor designed for unpaid family caregivers that gives personalized alerts, messages and reminders. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Holiday parades help bring shoppers to Downtown Summerlin
Sports Town USA floor manager Angela Gardonio talks about the work that goes into the Downtown Summerlin holiday parades and how they benefit her and other businesses there.
Final vote on CG Technology
Final commission vote on the $2 million settlement for CG Technology.
Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like