Prison for News Agency Employee Who Fiddled Racing Results to Win Bets

Posted on: November 8, 2021, 09:12h. 

Last updated on: November 8, 2021, 06:14h.

A former horse racing analyst at the UK’s national news agency was sentenced to ten months in prison Friday for tweaking results to better reflect his betting picks.

Jack Bentham
Jack Bentham arrives in court in Hull, England to hear his sentencing. The former PA Media employee pleaded guilty in August to fraud by abuse of position after cooking race results for personal gain. (Image: PA Media)

Hull Crown Court heard that Jack Bentham, from East Yorkshire, fraudulently “manipulated race data to change the race results in his favor.”

In 2018, the 24-year-old briefly worked for PA Media, formerly the Press Association, which has long provided the betting industry with live racing data feeds. Bentham began executing the scam on his first day of unsupervised work.

Bookies Smell a Rat

Prosecutors said Bentham would place bets on the favorite in a race. If it didn’t win, he would swap its label over to make it the winner. Between October 13 and October 22 that year, his tinkering made him £15,000 from 105 bets., or just over US$20,000.

This meant some bettors who had picked winning horses did not receive winnings they were entitled to, while others received payouts they shouldn’t have.

But the court heard betting operators SkyBet, Paddy Power, and Bet365 smelled a rat, complaining to PA Media after detecting suspicious betting patterns.

Paddy Power suspended Bentham’s account, which contained around £5,000 (US$6,800) at the time.

‘Staggering’ Fraud

“This was a serious breach of trust,” said Judge Megan Rhys. “The level of fraud committed over such a short period of time was quite frankly staggering, and it started on the very first day your supervision ended.”

She added that the incident had undermined trust in PA Media, which “trades on its integrity and reputation.”

Bentham pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position in August. His defense attorney, Stephen Robinson, said Bentham had been involved in gambling since before he was 18, the legal age in the UK, and this had “swiftly led to an addiction.”

His client has taken steps to address this problem, self-excluding from bookmaking shops and betting sites. He has since found work with a bedroom design company and is in line for promotion, which means he will soon be in a position to make compensation payments.

“He admitted the offense in interview and made full and frank admissions and expressions of regret,” Robinson said. He is remorseful for his actions and aware of the shame that he has brought upon himself and his family, who have all supported him.”