Oliver Anderson, the former Australian Open boys tennis champion, avoided a custodial sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to throwing a set at the Traralgon Challenger tournament last year.
Instead, he received a two-year good-behavior order and a fine of $500. The sentence is light, although his career is likely to be over.
The match-fixing scandal came to light just before the Australian Open in January. This was bad timing for official sponsor of the tournament, British bookie William Hill, which agreed to pull its court-side advertising in the light of the Anderson investigation, as well as the match-fixing furor that erupted just prior to the previous year’s tournament.
There was no suggestion that Hill’s was involved with these betting violations, although it was felt to be inappropriate for a bookmaker to have such high visibility at a time when the tennis was being forced to confront questions about its own integrity.
And the bookies got the blame for the failure of tennis authorities to investigate and discipline their own athletes.
Suspicious Betting Spotted by Crownbet
Ironic, really, when you consider that the regulated betting industry constantly monitors matches and notifies its suspicions to the Tennis Integrity Unit, an organization that stands accused of doing too little to combat match-fixing and corruption within the game.
The fact is that Anderson was caught by Crownbets, which spotted suspicious betting patterns on the match in question and immediately notified authorities.
Anderson admitted he was approached by a friend shortly before the first-round match of the tournament, who suggested he drop the first set in a game he was likely to win, against Harrison Lombe, ranked 900 places below him.
Punishing Sponsorship Deal to Blame?
Anderson, who was in financial difficulty because of a sponsorship contract that he had been unable to repay due to injury, agreed, but Crownbets became suspicious when a punter attempted to place a four-figure sum Anderson to win after losing the first set.
The player, who was never paid by his “friend,” has shown remorse and was described by his lawyer as “a thoroughly honest individual who has made a very, very, very stupid mistake.”
The fact is, the unnamed punter who broke the law in an attempt to profit from the match was clumsy. The majority of match-fixing in tennis benefits criminal syndicates who tend bet on the unregulated Asian markets, which is undetectable.
But to blame betting companies licensed by the Australian government, who do more to monitor these events than the actual bodies charged with regulating sports, is way off the mark.