We love sports because of the game being played. Whether you’re a baseball, basketball or football fan you watch because you want to see a fair and competitive game.
Sports has been this way forever. We expect a fair and honest game to unfold whether there’s money on the line or not.
Integrity is important to the legitimacy of a sport regardless of gambling. Believe it or not, professional tennis has been at the forefront of integrity for professional sports. The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) is the anti-corruption body covering all professional tennis around the world. Even though the professional tennis associations and major tournaments fund the TIU there are still matches that slip through the cracks.
The most recent tennis match that to draw attention for potentially being fixed by a participant happened during the first round of Wimbledon. ABC News from Australia was the first to report that a doubles match with David Marrero was flagged for suspicious betting behavior. This wasn’t tagged by the Tennis Integrity Unit who still hasn’t done anything official with the player.
Who should be tracking the integrity of sports?
The unusual odds movement in the Marrero match was caught by online bookmaker Pinnacle Sports. The tournament and affiliated associations wouldn’t have been able to see betting patterns before a match started or while it was being played. However, sportsbook operators can see strange betting patterns as the wagers are being placed.
This is the second time a Marrero match has been flagged by Pinnacle for suspicious activity. His first-round doubles match at the 2016 Australian Open was taken off the board at Pinnacle. This match was actually this event that spawned the idea of the Tennis Integrity Unit.
The Tennis Integrity Unit hasn’t taken action against Marrero for the possible Wimbledon transgression yet. Pinnacle’s integrity unit took immediate measures to make sure their customers were protected against any shenanigans. Thanks to the sportsbook operator, bettors and fans know something was up with the Marrero loss in the first round of Wimbledon.
Game and match fixing doesn’t happen often thanks to both leagues and sportsbook operators. The league has to keep their sport aboveboard so people will attend and watch games. The sportsbook operators have to track the legitimacy of an event to protect their customers. There has been a good check and balance between the two entities over the years.
Sports leagues might not realize it but the combination of both entities keeping the games legitimate is probably the best thing for fans – aka their customers. Diving into the integrity business isn’t a foolproof plan as the Tennis Integrity Unit has shown. Evidently cheating in tennis is still rampant.
Sure everyone wants a cut of the money wagered on sports but integrity and oversight aren’t new for the leagues. Charging sportsbook operators to track integrity now isn’t only disingenuous but it’s also messing with a system that has worked for years. The leagues should realize there will be revenue from sports betting without expanding the integrity they’ve been providing their league for years.