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No gambling permitted: how sports governing bodies regulate betting by athletes and "Connected Persons"

Friday, 22 April 2016 By Kevin Carpenter

With the recent investigation into doping and corruption in athletics,1 allegations about match-fixing in tennis,2 the continuing corruption scandal in football,3 and now the Panama leaks leading to raids at UEFA,4 it is arguable that the integrity of sport has never been so undermined and under attack at any time in history.

In the same period there have been numerous instances around the world of players, coaches and other persons with a direct or indirect connection to sport (referred to collectively in this blog as “participants”) being found to have bet on their own sport and being sanctioned.

This blog examines the nature and extent of this problem and explains how it is currently being dealt with by sports governing bodies (SGBs). It also proposes that, while attracting little media attention, the issue needs to be monitored and tackled with the same vigour as the high profile scandals above.


Cases in 2015 and 2016

To put the topic in context, key recent cases include:

  • Philip Blake – Coach – Rugby Union

Philip Blake (at the relevant time) the defence coach of English Premiership rugby union club Leicester Tigers RFC was given a six-month global suspension and fined for betting on his own team.5

Of interest from this ruling was that four of the bets made by Mr Blake in breach of the applicable regulations, placed via a self-service betting terminal in a casino, were handicap/spread bets. This means that Mr Blake would still win his bet even if the team who employed him as a coach lost by a certain margin.

The Rugby Football Union were fortunate that Mr Blake was caught. This was only due to a casino employee, who audited the machines and, thinking it was unusual such amounts had been bet on rugby, noticed the same betting pattern on two occasions and checked the casino’s CCTV footage, only to recognise Mr Blake from his membership. He then saw Mr Blake worked at the club in question by looking at their website.6

  • Angela Reakes – Player - Cricket

Cricket Australia imposed a two-year suspended sentence on player Angela Reakes for placing five bets on the ‘man-of-the-match’ betting market during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.7

There was some surprise that Ms Reakes was sanctioned for placing bets which totalled just AUS$9 (c.£4.50 GBP) on a competition and match in which she was not a participant. However, the scale of the betting should only be relevant to the sanction and not the breach itself.

  • Dennis Quirke – Senior Handicapper – Horse Racing

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing suspended its senior handicapper Dennis Quirke for betting on races.8 By virtue of his position Mr Quirke possessed a significant amount of information relevant to the betting markets on the races for which he was responsible.9, 10

  • Lewis Smith – Player – Football

Lewis Smith was charged with 28 breaches of the Football Association’s Rules relating to betting activity during the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons. After admitting the charges, Mr Smith was suspended for just under 17 months and fined the total returns he made on the bets of £22,865.11

  • Marius Sumudica – Coach – Football

Mr Sumudica is the coach of the Romanian top division team FC Astra. He was found to have placed bets between of a value between €500 and €900 euros on several matches in the Romanian championship, the Champions League, Europa League as well as Romania's junior teams' matches. The Romania Football Federation banned him for six months and fined him c.€22,000.12

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Written by

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor.

Kevin specialises in integrity, regulatory, governance and disciplinary matters. His expertise and knowledge has led him to be engaged by major private and public bodies, including the IOC, FIFA, the Council of Europe, INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as making regular appearances internationally delivering presentations and commenting in the media on sports law issues.

His research and papers are published across a variety of forums, including having a blog on LawInSport.

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