Sydney: The International Cricket Council vowed Friday to clamp down on live betting to try to ensure a corruption-free World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Anyone caught breaking the rules will be barred from the whole tournament, which starts on February 14.
Live betting or "pitch-siding" involves gamblers at sports events gaining an upper hand on other punters by taking advantage of the short time-lag, usually a matter of seconds, between play and live international broadcasts on television. Sir Ronnie Flanagan, head of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit, said the issue went far deeper than a few clever people getting one over on betting shops.
"I think the risk is that this feeds into a wider and more sophisticated network of illegal betting, often in the Indian sub-continent," he said. Gambling is mostly illegal in India, but betting on cricket matches thrives through networks of underground bookies.
"Facilitating people to either bet on events which are then known events or in terms of illegal bookmakers adjusting their odds to know they should be shortening the odds on something ... I think that's where it is a risk of being some sort of minor contagion."
At least three examples of pitch-siding have been reported during the southern hemisphere summer, with one man thrown out of two T20 Big Bash League games and another ejected from the first match of the ODI series against India. Flanagan, a former British chief constable, said the ICC was sharing information with the New Zealand and Australian governments as well as state administrations. He urged players to be wary of criminals who might seek to take advantage.
"In our line of work, we too often meet and know that there are rotten people out there, criminal people out there, who will do all in their power to get at players and others of influence within the game," Flanagan said.
"They will trick them, they will coerce them, they will try and attract them. "They are almost like paedophiles in how they attempt to groom people into ultimately attempting to do what suits their nefarious intentions in terms of illegal betting and other elements of criminality."
The Indian Premier League 2013 season was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several officials and cricketers for illegal betting and spot-fixing.