Sports

Suspicious Betting Activity Triggers Alerts for Two Wimbledon Tennis Matches

A German newspaper has reported that two matches at Wimbledon have been referred to the International Tennis Integrity Agency over concerns of match-fixing.

An aerial shot of the All England Club at Wimbledon, which hosts the world’s most prestigious tennis championship every summer. A German publication has reported that sportsbooks issued alarms about match-fixing concerns regarding two matches at this year’s event. (Image: Wimbledon.com)

WELT said it learned a men’s doubles first-round match and a singles match were the targets of aberrant betting behavior. That prompted sportsbooks to raise concerns.

The report did not name any players involved in the matches. The ITIA, known as the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) until this year, declined to comment to the German publication.

In the doubles match, WELT reported that numerous sportsbooks raised red flags after betting activity indicated the favored team was the subject of high-priced live bets. Those wagers called on them to lose.

The duo won the first set, which increased the odds on their own defeat, and then lost the remaining sets, reported WELT (translated to English by Google). “Both the timing of the bets and the amount placed indicate irregularities.”

In the singles match, which involved a German player, sportsbooks sounded alarms when, after the second set, a five-figure amount was wagered on the exact outcome of the third set.

“There were also special bets on the maximum number of service games in the entire match,” WELT reported (again, translated to English by Google). “Both bets ultimately came true.”

Officials suspect the German player’s opponent of wrongdoing.

Six Tennis Players Banned for Match-Fixing Last Year

Match-fixing in tennis is not a new phenomenon. According to the TIU’s 2020 annual report, the agency received 77 match alerts from licensed sportsbooks and data suppliers that have memorandums of understanding with the organization. That was a little more than half the total reported in 2019. However, authorities were quick to point out the COVID-19 pandemic, which drastically impacted the tennis calendar, factored in that downturn.

Those referrals led to 22 sanctions against tennis professionals, including 16 players, five officials, and a coach. Six players received lifetime bans for their roles in match-fixing schemes.

The largest fine handed down last year was a $250,000 penalty to Bulgarian Karen Khachatryan. Khachatryan also received a lifetime ban for match-fixing, recruiting other players to not play with their “best effort,” and failing to cooperate with investigators.

Arrest Made in 2020 French Open Case

The Wimbledon allegations come a month after a Russian player was arrested in June on allegations she was involved in a match-fixing scheme during the 2020 French Open.

The Associated Press reported authorities arrested Yana Sizikova on June 4 after she played in a match in this year’s French Open.

The ITIA said in its quarterly report there were no match-fixing alerts received during this year’s French Open. Overall for the quarter, which ran from April to June, it received 11 alerts.

On its website, the ITIA notes that an alert from a licensed sportsbook doesn’t always indicate a sign of match-fixing.

“Unusual betting patterns can occur for many reasons other than match-fixing – for example, incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue, or form; playing conditions and personal circumstances,” the ITIA states.

The agency said it reviews each alert. When it finds signs of corruption, it launches a complete and confidential investigation.

Steve Bittenbender

Horse Racing, Sports Betting, Gaming Legislation, Midwest and Gulfport Casinos----Steve Bittenbender is a veteran reporter, and brings more than two decades of experience covering sports, gaming business, and politics and legislation to Casino.org, which he joined in 2019. Based in Louisville, Kentucky -- the epicenter of the US horse racing industry -- Steve has also covered major collegiate and professional sports for the Associated Press and the Louisville Courier Journal, and is frequently featured on local network TV newscasts and podcasts for his horse racing business and legislative expertise. A Reuters contributor, he has also previously served as editor for Government Security News. Steve lives with his wife and son, and is an avid poker player, having learned from his uncle as a wholesome after-school pasttime with cookies and milk. Email: stevebittenbender@casino.org

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