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ARTICLE: Call to make players' bets on their own sports illegal
The Sydney Morning Herald
By Jacquelin Magnay
November 15, 2003
A heavyweight consortium of sporting codes is planning to lobby the Federal Government to help stamp out what they believe is the greatest threat to their games - players betting on games.
Lawyers from the Australian Rugby Union, Australian Football League and Australian Cricket Board want insider betting on matches and match fixing to be a criminal offence.
Other sports such as the National Rugby League, golf, tennis and athletics have also declared their support after discussing the issues at the annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association in Canberra this week.
The director of the association, Andrew Twaits, said sports betting was a growth industry that had spread beyond the traditional horse racing.
"The main issue is that there needs to be the ability to investigate allegations of corrupt conduct," Mr Twaits said.
"If there was another player or official accused of taking money for providing insider information the powers to investigate it within sport are extremely limited. Under common law, sports can't interfere without statutory back-up and in many cases it is not appropriate that the sports conduct the inquiry anyway."
Earlier this month the Association of Tennis Professionals started investigating claims in London's Daily Telegraph that $200,000 bets had been placed by international tennis players - using coaches and middlemen - with internet betting exchanges.
If the claims are proven the players face substantial fines and a three-year ban from the sport.
Betting expert Jamie Nettleton, a partner in the law firm Coudert Brothers, said match fixing was the predominant danger in sports because the financial stakes were so high.
"Some parties involved in betting will do whatever it takes to fix a match," Mr Nettleton said. "The only way sports can protect their interests is through legislation. Current legislation protects the racing industry, not other sports in general."
Competitors are bound by their sporting association's rules. The standard players contracts of cricketers in Australia, for example, prevent them from betting on cricket worldwide.
The clause was introduced after the Mark Waugh-Shane Warne scandal when they gave information to bookmakers on the Indian sub-continent about weather and pitch conditions.
"The players can't even bet on a local club game in Sri Lanka because the perception is there that they may have knowledge. It is about managing expectations," said Mr Twaits.
"But if another set of allegations arose in cricket or football it would be very difficult for the sport to investigate and then if it was proven that someone acted corruptly the sports can't impose a meaningful penalty."
Last year St George Illawarra rugby league players were fined a total of $25,000 for backing themselves to win a game against the Warriors.
The NRL prohibits gambling on games, providing information to other gamblers, accepting bribes or match fixing.
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