Daring fake Indian cricket competition reminder of game’s historic relationship with betting

Daring fake Indian cricket competition reminder of game’s historic relationship with betting
Short Url
Updated 21 July 2022

Daring fake Indian cricket competition reminder of game’s historic relationship with betting

Daring fake Indian cricket competition reminder of game’s historic relationship with betting
  • Outlawing offline, onshore gambling has generated huge Indian underground betting market worth estimated $45bn-$150bn

Last week a remarkable story broke about a fraudulent cricket competition in India. Simultaneously, it was a reminder of a level of invention and entrepreneurship characteristic of the region and cricket’s historic relationship with betting.

This was prevalent in 17th- and 18th-century England, when matches, hosted by aristocrats but involving hired professionals, were played for significant sums of money. The matches also provided opportunities for lower classes to indulge in betting.

Echoes of this feudalistic structure were evident in the Indian fraud.

Four people are alleged to have cleared a space on a farm in a village in Gujarat, western India. There, they created a cricket pitch, with boundary lines, halogen lamps, and high-resolution cameras. The set up was complete with scores being displayed on a live streaming screen, using computer-generated graphics.

The 20 or so players were hired hands, laborers, and young, unemployed, people, who were paid $5 per game. They wore outfits which sought to replicate those of three Indian Premier League teams — Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Titans.

Matches were broadcast on a YouTube channel called IPL. No wide-angled view of play was shown, with focus upon the players. Crowd-noise sound effects were downloaded from the internet supplemented by a speaker who sounded similar to one of the IPL’s actual commentators.

All of these features were designed to provide authenticity, but for whom? The real IPL had concluded on May 29 and this one began three weeks later. Anyone in cricket-playing nations would have known this. It seems that the target market was Russia, not noted for having much interest or ability in cricket.

However, the production of the fake tournament was persuasive enough to entice Russian punters in three cities to part with money via the messaging app, Telegram. The fulcrum point of the operation was the umpire. After bets were placed, the umpire was alerted via walkie-talkie and the batter and bowler were instructed to manipulate a six, four, or to get out. This is not always easy to achieve on demand.

Further details are awaited concerning the prime movers behind the hoax and Indian-Russian links. It does seem remarkable that the punters could not realize that the players were not professional cricketers or that there was a distinct lack of crowd scenes as there normally is in televised matches. Of course, they may not have cared. It was an opportunity to make bets, to gamble. It is not easy for those who do not gamble to understand the mentality and behavior of those who habitually do.

What is easy to grasp is the continued growth of sports betting. Estimates of its size in 2021 sit within a range of $70.23 billion to $89.65 billion, cricket’s share around 10 percent. All estimates predicate a compound annual growth rate of between 10 and 13 percent up to 2030.

Key drivers of this growth are new leagues and tournaments, de-regulatory activity, increasing digital connectivity, and take-up by younger generations, especially with smart-phone usage.

Although the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on betting because land-based retail gambling was paused, it did fuel growth in online betting. No reliable estimates of the proportion of sports betting that is offline and online can be cited, but it is widely accepted that online is set to increase its share.

This is recognized on the supply side, where competition is fierce, with sports betting companies seeking to provide engaging and easy to use websites, exclusive deals, enticing welcome offers, and a pleasurable experience.

The amount of data available and greater capacity to analyze it, leads both bettors and betting companies to generate prediction models. Unsurprisingly, there is a growing body of academic papers within India that seek to provide a means of predicting the outcome of IPL matches. A model that really defeats the bookmakers does not seem to have emerged, at least not publicly.

The search for such a model is not just for advancement of academic careers. According to the Public Gambling Act of 1867, all forms of gambling are illegal in India, although offshore ships with betting halls thrive. The law distinguishes between games of chance and games of skill.

In an amendment in 1996, India’s Supreme Court ruled that horse racing was a game of skill and that betting on it was legal. This was because the bettor needs to possess detailed knowledge of the horse, its fitness and training, rider, race location, and underfoot conditions. Curiously, cricket was not regarded as a game of skill.

An information technology act was introduced in 2000 designed to allow overseas betting sites to be blocked. However, the failure of legislation to specifically ban online betting means that Indians can access offshore sites.

Within India, individual states can make their own laws. The northeastern state of Sikkim legalized online and sports gaming in 2008, subject to regulation and licensing. Goa allows live gambling but has not legalized sports betting. More recently, other states, while reinforcing the illegality of offline gambling, have been silent about the legality of online betting.

The outlawing of offline, onshore, gambling has generated a huge Indian underground betting market. This is variously estimated to be worth between $45 billion and $150 billion and represents a significant loss of tax revenue. It is likely to be riddled with fraudulent and irresponsible activity. Eighty percent of this market is estimated to relate to cricket and is heavily weighted toward the IPL. This is set to expand over the next five years, providing even more opportunities for betting.

India’s gambling laws, based on 155-year-old legislation, cannot be considered fit for purpose in an increasingly digitalized world, in which online betting is set for growth. The policies based on the laws are confusing and incoherent and in much need of revision. Currently, they allow global sports betting companies to circumvent national laws through offshore provision. At the other end of the spectrum, a homespun, daring, initiative in western India has shown how easy it is to circumvent these laws on domestic soil.


Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
  • Mohammed Tolo second in shot put and Ali Al-Khadrawi third in table tennis
  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the federation, proud of performances

Saudi Arabia claimed two more medals at the Islamic Solidarity Games, in shot put and table tennis, on Monday in Turkey.

This comes ahead of the tournament’s official opening ceremony in Konya, on Tuesday night.

President of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who also serves as president of Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, was in attendance on Monday as Mohammed Tolo claimed silver for Saudi Arabia in the shot put with a throw of 20.12 meters.

Saudi’s second medal of the day came from Ali Al-Khadrawi who took bronze in the individual table tennis competition, having lost 4-1 in the semifinals to Iran’s Amir Hussein.

Al-Khadrawi had reached the last four with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Turkey’s Abdullah Talha.

The Kingdom’s overall medal tally at Konya 2022 now stands at three (one silver and two bronze).

Meanwhile, Saudi’s U-23 team defeated Azerbaijan 1-0 in their opening match of the football competition, the winning goal coming from Ahmed Al-Ghamdi’s 95th-minute penalty.

The athletics competition saw two Saudi runners reach the final of the 400-meter race, with Mazen Al-Yassin winning Heat 2 in 45.94 seconds, while Yousef Masrahi finished second in Heat 1 with a time of 45.95.

Mohammed Al-Maawi qualified for the final of the 400 hurdles, by finishing third in the heats in 50.84.

Abdullah Abkar qualified for the semifinals of the 100 sprint by coming second in Heat 2 in a time of 10.06.

In the final of the men’s 5000, Tariq Al-Omari finished sixth with a time of 13 minutes, 95.05 seconds, while Yasmine Al-Dabbagh came sixth in the women’s 100 qualifiers in 12.81. It was a personal best for the Saudi Olympian, whose previous record stood at 12.90.

In the Paralympic swimming competition, Ibrahim Al-Marzouki, already winner of a bronze in the 50-meter butterfly, finished fourth in the 200 freestyle final with a time of 4:39.21, the same position as Saudi colleague Turki Al-Harbi in the 200 medley (2:54.73).


Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race
Updated 09 August 2022

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race
  • ‘Some people laughed but look how far we’ve come’
  • Maserati, McLaren and ABT on next year’s grid is mark of success

Formula E’s co-founder and chief championship officer Alberto Longo is happy to have proved people wrong as the championship prepares to host its 100th race this Sunday.

South Korean capital Seoul will stage the double-header season finale rounds on Aug. 13 and 14 with Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne sitting at the top of the drivers’ standings and a firm favorite to clinch his first Formula E title.

Since the inaugural race was held in Beijing in 2014, Longo has been among the key figures in helping the Formula E Championship grow and says he and his team are “super proud” of the manner in which its presence has increased worldwide.

“I am so proud of what we are today compared to what we were when the first race was held. I remember when we first had the idea of this competition. Some people laughed about the venture we were thinking about, and now look how far we have come.

“I can only remember those first days where there were some brave people who put in their efforts and believed in what we were doing. There are a lot of people that we have to thank, as we are here because of them. We now have a World Championship with spectacular races around the world, in some of the most amazing cities, with fantastic teams as well as an excellent line-up of drivers.”

“Today, you are not talking about the future anymore — we’re talking about the present and what is happening today. Overall, I’m super proud of what we have achieved but this is only the tip of the iceberg — and there is a lot more to come.”

Longo believes Formula E will continue to go from strength to strength as it enters a new era with the introduction of the Gen 3 cars next season. He insists the new additions of popular car manufacturers Maserati, McLaren and ABT on next year’s grid is a prime example of Formula E’s success and revealed there is no shortage of interest when it comes to the cities that want to be part of future Formula E season calendars.

“There are many manufacturers that come and go and that happens in every championship, but we do have the power to attract new manufacturers and that is a fact,” Longo said.

“This year, we have three new teams with Maserati, McLaren, and ABT. That is fantastic because in just a single year, it shows how we can attract such big names in motorsport.

“It’s not just from car manufacturers’ perspectives, but also with new cities. We are dealing with more than 100 cities on a yearly basis that want to host an event in Formula E — and that is way different to how it was during the earlier stages of when Formula E had just been launched.”


Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos
Updated 09 August 2022

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos
  • The win came in the Riyadh club’s fourth match of their ongoing training camp in Spain

Al-Nassr defeated Spanish club Torremolinos 2-1 in the Saudi team’s fourth friendly match of their pre-season training camp taking place in Marbella.

The Riyadh club drew 2-2 in their first match against Las Palmas, and beat Zaragoza 2-1 in the second and Malaga 2-0 in the third.

Against Torremolinos, Al-Nassr started with a high press early on, Pity Martinez having a shot saved after only four minutes, while the referee disallowed a goal by Talisca after 15 minutes for offside.

Quick-fire goals in the 43rd and 44th minutes by Vincent Aboubakar and Talisca saw Al-Nassr take a two-goal lead into the break.

Torremolinos reduced the deficit in the 74th minute, but Rudi Garcia’s team, thanks to several substitutions, managed to see out the match for the 2-1 win.

Al-Nassr will host Al-Wehda at Mrsool Park on Aug. 27 in their opening fixture of the 2022-23 Saudi Pro League season.


Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash
Updated 09 August 2022

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash
  • The Italian coach said he saw echoes of Real’s fighting spirit in their underdog opponents Frankfurt, and was aware not to take last season’s Europa League winners lightly

HELSINKI: Real Madrid are determined not to be knocked off their perch at the summit of European football this season as they prepare to start their campaign against Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is the only manager to win the Champions League four times, said his side’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in last season’s final made him “feel like no one should ever take your place.” 

“And that’s a pretty strong motivation to keep winning,” he said in an interview with UEFA.com.

Ancelotti returned for a second spell in charge of Real ahead of last season and led them to their 35th Spanish title.

However, it was in Europe where Real really impressed, pulling off comeback victories over Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City before beating the heavily favored Reds in the final.

“All the comebacks we made were achieved in our stadium, thanks to that boost which came from the stands. Always believe, never give up. After all, we played against very strong teams. It was inevitable that we would suffer,” he said.

The Italian coach said he saw echoes of Real’s fighting spirit in their underdog opponents Frankfurt, and was aware not to take last season’s Europa League winners lightly.

“Last year, Eintracht achieved something special because they weren’t among the favorites,” added Ancelotti, whose side recently returned from a pre-season tour to the US.

Wednesday’s game will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, where Frankfurt will make their Super Cup debut in their first competitive meeting with Madrid since the legendary 1960 European Cup final which the Spanish giants won 7-3.

Real will be making their eighth Super Cup appearance, having lifted the trophy four times.

Ancelotti himself is unbeaten in Super Cup finals. He won two with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, as well as with Real in 2014.

While Real will take on a side which qualified for the final on the back of winning their first European trophy in 42 years, Ancelotti said Frankfurt had the advantage going into Wednesday’s clash in Helsinki.

“We have a few more disadvantages than Eintracht, who start their season earlier, but we’ll play to win,” he said.

Although Madrid’s La Liga campaign will not start until Sunday when they take on newly-promoted Almeria, Frankfurt fans may question how much of an advantage they have in the wake of Friday’s 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in their Bundesliga season opener.

Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp said his side would not be overawed against Madrid and were relishing the experience ahead of what will be their maiden Champions League campaign this year.

They knocked out Barcelona on the way to winning last season’s Europa League, defeating Rangers on penalties in the final in Seville.

“We want to be a team who are awkward to play against, who fight and never give up. Of course we have respect, but not fear,” the former PSG goalkeeper told the Eintracht Frankfurt website in an interview published Sunday.

Trapp, who alongside former Bayern and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Goetze is one of only a handful of players with Champions League experience in the Eintracht ranks, said his side deserved their place in the season-opening showpiece.

“Playing in the Super Cup means you’ve been successful, earned it and done a good job. To have the opportunity at this stage of the season to win a trophy against this club (Madrid) — it doesn’t get better.”


USA Swimming cuts deal to simplify anonymous abuse reporting

USA Swimming cuts deal to simplify anonymous abuse reporting
Updated 09 August 2022

USA Swimming cuts deal to simplify anonymous abuse reporting

USA Swimming cuts deal to simplify anonymous abuse reporting
  • RealResponse has developed technology that allows reporters to file reports about abuse via text and for those who receive the reports to follow up while the name of the reporter remains concealed
  • USA Swimming plans to make the technology available to its approximately 400,000 members

DENVER: USA Swimming has added technology to its abuse-reporting systems that will allow better communication between those coordinating investigations and reporters who want to remain anonymous.

The organization announced a deal with RealResponse on Monday, which is international Safe Sport Day.

One feature in RealResponse’s technology is the ability to exchange information with anonymous reporters via text without the reporters having to identify themselves. Though organizations can often act more decisively when victims or witnesses attach their names to reports, anonymous reporting is crucial because often victims fear retribution if their names become public.

RealResponse has developed technology that allows reporters to file reports about abuse via text and for those who receive the reports to follow up while the name of the reporter remains concealed.

“Previously, we could receive an anonymous report, but we had no way to follow up with that individual if we had additional questions or didn’t have enough information, or wanted to let them know what we were doing to follow up,” said Abigail Howard, who oversees the director of USA Swimming’s safe sport program.

USA Swimming plans to make the technology available to its approximately 400,000 members.

The national governing body is a defendant in several lawsuits claiming it failed to protect them from abuse by coaches. In 2010, USA Swimming’s former executive director, the late Chuck Wielgus, was accused of ignoring or downplaying dozens of cases of sexual abuse. Around 150 swimming coaches have since been banned by the US Center for SafeSport, which was created in response to cases in swimming, gymnastics and other Olympic sports.

Though not affiliated with the SafeSport center, RealResponse started offering its own technology five years ago to help organizations streamline reporting and keep better track of the way they process and resolve cases. At times, organizations get into legal trouble because there’s insufficient documentation to show how they responded when told about a case.

The mission, says the company’s founder, David Chadwick, is “providing a safe space for people to speak up and doing it in a really accessible and easy to use way and, frankly, helping leaders of these organizations identify issues faster before they become bigger crisis.”

RealResponse has deals with more than 100 college sports programs, a handful of NFL teams and the National Women’s Soccer League. In the Olympic realm, USA Swimming joins USA Track and Field, US Equestrian, USA Gymnastics and the US Anti-Doping Agency among the organizations that have signed on.