The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) has reported that professional tennis is linked with suspicious gambling activities.
The game of professional tennis is big business and has become a niche gambling sport for those who like to bet on individuals rather than teams. But there have been red flags in terms of irregular gambling patterns and those activities fall under the auspices of ESSA.
A total of 41 cases of suspicious betting activity have been reported in the second quarter of 2016 and tennis has been the subject of the lion’s share of those reports.
Thirty-four or 83 percent of the 41 total cases has involved gambling irregularities on tennis, followed by four on football and one apiece for beach volleyball, snooker and handball. European events drew 24 reports, with five each in Africa and Asia, trailed by three apiece in North and South America, and one case of undetermined origin.
The ESSA report also details an effort by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) to improve the onerous situation. Integrity of the game in any sport is paramount and to that end the TIU is rolling out a platform which will include player education for new competitors to the professional ranks, as well as a mandatory online course that must be completed by all participants, identified as the Tennis Integrity Protection Program (TIPP).
ESSA’s efforts in this regard are promulgated by its membership who informs the organization of suspicious activity, transactions and unusual betting patterns. Once these reports are registered, ESSA vets the information and determines whether or not there is cause for alarm. In this regard, tennis has come under increasing scrutiny and the chairman of ESSA, Mike O’Kane, had this to say:
“It is quite right that the tennis authorities seek to conduct a thorough investigation of its integrity procedures. We must, quite reasonably, give the sport some breathing space to identify and implement any necessary changes, but changes are clearly needed and the sooner the better for us all.
"In the meantime, ESSA will continue to support the sport in this important endeavor, which will hopefully soon result in the delivery of a best practice model that others will follow.”
It should also be noted that these latest figures targeting tennis as the sport with the most suspicious gambling activity in the second quarter of ’16 is the continuation of a pattern set in 2015. Last year of 100 suspicious sporting events that were red-flagged to ESSA, 73 of them involved tennis events.
The Tennis Integrity Unit has worked with the sports watchdog organization ESSA in determining that though the many occurrences are cause for concern, there has not been any proven corruption running rampant. Betting companies and online sportsbooks are working with both bodies to ensure a clean and fair game at every level of the sport.