Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CD Poker is Top 10 Safe / Another Tennis Betting--Cheating Scandal! / French Tennis Authorities Sue Online Betting Sites Over Tennis Betting Scandals

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For those of you who read Bluff Magazine or follow this blog, you have seen my writings about tennis scandals and the possibility of current and ex-professional tennis players being involved in professional poker cheating, both online and in brick and mortar poker rooms. Yesterday yet another tennis pro was implicated in a betting scandal and suspended and fined. I haven't heard his name come up (yet) in any poker cheating insinuations, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does. The player, Giorgio Galimberti, is strongly suspected of even betting on his own matches, which could only mean he's suspected of throwing those he bet on. This also does not surprise me; after all, he's ranked 1,009 in the world! Not about to win Wimbledon anytime soon! Here's the article:

A day after the ATP Tour suspended Italian player Giorgio Galimberti for betting on the sport, a tour spokesman told ESPN that Galimberti was found to have bet on his own matches 14 times, including once to lose, as part of "combination bets" involving multiple matches. The one time Galimberti backed an opponent, according to the ATP, he hedged his bets, betting for and against himself, and ended up winning the match.

Giorgio Galimberti, who was fined $35,000 and suspended 100 days for betting on tennis, hinted that he also bet on his own matches.

ATP spokesman Kris Dent said its investigation found Galimberti had wagered 401 times on 1,796 tennis matches between June 2003 and January 2006. Of these, 13 were combination bets (in which a bettor picks winners of multiple matches to form one single bet) on himself and one was a combination bet on his opponent. The combination bet on his opponent was one of nine matches in a single bet for five euros ($7.36). Galimberti also placed two other combined bets on the same match to win, won the match and lost all three of the combination bets involving that match.

Galimberti, who received a 100-day suspension and $35,000 fine from the ATP, told ESPN in the first of two phone interviews Tuesday, "I never bet on myself losing." Once the 115th-ranked singles player in the world, he added, "That doesn't mean I didn't bet on me winning," but he declined to elaborate.

Dent said the ATP found no evidence of any attempt by Galimberti to affect the outcome of any tennis match, a conclusion shared by an independent hearing officer, who ruled that an offense under the anti-corruption program had occurred and determined the suspension and fine.

"They [ATP officials] have the right to say what they want," Galimberti said later Tuesday. "I don't feel like saying anything about it. I don't confirm anything. I believe this is still part of my privacy, which in my opinion has been compromised."

Galimberti said he is "kind of disgusted at the way the ATP has acted" in issuing penalties against him and three other Italian players, Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro, who were previously suspended by the ATP for gambling on the sport.

"The ATP is using our story to make people think they're doing something against match-fixing," he said. "What is bad is match-fixing. What we did was nothing. It doesn't compare."

Starace was suspended in December for six weeks and fined $30,000; Bracciali was banned for three months and fined $20,000; and Di Mauro drew a nine-month suspension and $60,000 fine in November.

Italian Tennis Federation spokesman Giancarlo Baccini drew a distinction between the Galimberti matter and the other three, saying the federation's president had been hard on the ATP in earlier instances.

The four Italian players are the only ones to receive suspensions and fines under the ATP's regulations against gambling.

"I have no idea," Galimberti said when asked why only Italians have been disciplined. He said he knows players from other countries who have also placed bets on tennis using the Internet. Baccini said he has no explanation, either.

Dent, the ATP spokesman, called it "a coincidence."

Galimberti said he considers his penalties "a victory," as an independent hearing officer did not uphold the penalties the ATP was seeking of a suspension of 18 months and fine of $75,000. But he said he and his lawyers are considering going to court to challenge the ATP's sanction.

One source close to the investigation told ESPN that the stiffer penalty was sought by the ATP because Galimberti was known to have bet on his own matches.

Galimberti, now ranked below the top 1,000, said that all of his bets were small, perhaps averaging about 40 euros ($55), and were always "for fun." He said he has never been involved "in any kind of fraud" and has never been approached to fix a match.

Galimberti, 31, said that even before Monday's ATP announcement, shoulder injuries had him thinking of ending his tennis career. Now, he said, he's seriously considering it. A Davis Cup player for Italy from 2001-06, Galimberti attained a world ranking of No. 65 in doubles.

The ATP, according to Galimberti, faces a legitimate challenge, but he said he's not part of the problem.

"I believe there's a problem with match-fixing in any sport, especially in a one-on-one sport," he said.


French Open organizers taking online betting companies to court over gambling

French Open organizers have filed a lawsuit in a bid to ban online gambling companies from offering bets on the Grand Slam tournament.

The complaint filed Friday in courts in Liege in eastern Belgium and in Paris claims that Internet betting companies stain the reputation of the clay-court championship at Roland Garros.

"There is urgency to act because sporting ethic is at risk," Jean-Francois Vilotte, director general of the French tennis federation, told The Associated Press. "It is an issue as important as the fight against doping."

The issue of integrity in tennis came to the fore in August, when an online betting site - Betfair - voided all wagers on a match in Poland between fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello because of irregular betting patterns. Davydenko withdrew from the match in the third set, citing a foot injury.

The French federation is suing three companies - Betfair, Bwin and Ladbrokes - with a court injunction to stop them from taking bets on the French Open. It seeks a fine of C$75,000 a day for any violations, said Vilotte's lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont.

Dupont said the federation's case is built on two tenets: that the betting companies are tainting the reputation of the French Open and unfairly using the tournament as a way of making money.

If a match-fixing scandal hit the French Open, it would undermine the value of the tournament, which had a 2007 revenue $175 million and attracted 450,000 fans to Roland Garros and a potential 3 billion viewers worldwide, Dupont said.

"Targeting the only betting operator which is completely transparent and, where needed, shares all its betting information with the ITF and ATP would be just plain bizarre," Betfair managing director Mark Davies wrote in an e-mail. "I would be astonished if any sensible regulator wanted to go down this route or believed it could help protect the integrity of its sport when it so obviously does the opposite."

Vienna-based Bwin said it was confident it would be able to stave off the legal challenge.

"We offer a service. To explain what happens, we have to use the name of Roland Garros," Bwin spokesman Antoine Costanzo said. "We don't cause the problem. We warn them there is a problem. We help organizers find those who are guilty."

With soccer and horse racing, tennis is among the most popular sports to bet on.

When Vilotte monitored the ATP Masters Series tournament in Paris, which the French federation also organizes, he said bets over the weeklong event totalled between $750 million and $1.5 billion.

"You can imagine that for Roland Garros, the totals would be much higher," he said.

The federation says the betting companies manage to avoid being stuck with the fallout when there is suspicion of match fixing.

"They purely scrap the bets on the event in question and by doing that generate a scandal that the organization and players have to deal with. It can give them a lifelong ugly reputation," Dupont said.

The ATP opened an investigation into the Davydenko match, interviewing him and his wife and reviewing telephone records. No findings have been announced.

Since the match, several players have come forward to say they have been approached with offers to fix matches.

Late last year, three Italian pros - Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro - were suspended for betting on tennis matches involving other players.

According to Betfair and Bwin, attacking the official betting companies would only make the situation worse.

"Targeting EU-licensed companies, which are highly regulated, to leave punters (bettors) betting only with unlicensed operators across the web, would completely miss the point," Davies said.

Bwin agreed.

"We are a legal company quoted on the Vienna exchange," Costanzo said. "The problem is not companies like us, but the black market, which exist in all countries without strict regulation."