EXCLUSIVE: Eight illegal gamblers have been thrown out of cricket matches in the first two weeks of the SA20 competition amid corruption concerns – with one UK man boasting career earnings of £3.8m
- A Sportsmail investigation unearthed details of an anti-corruption operation
- Cricket South Africa is taking a break from the first two weeks of the SA20 competition
- Eight illegal gamblers, two from England, have been banned from T20 matches
Eight illegal gamblers, including two from England, have been banned from Twenty20 matches in South Africa in the first two weeks of the SA20 competition amid corruption concerns.
A Sportsmail The investigation unearthed details of Cricket South Africa’s anti-corruption operation in the new tournament franchise, which is mainly aimed at cracking down on criminal gangs who exploit poor workers to service the country’s £100billion-a-year illegal gambling industry. India.
The SA20 group stages featured England stars such as Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer alongside top South Africans Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock, a combination that attracted the country’s first sell-out crowds for in domestic matches in a generation.
Eight illegal gamblers have been banned from T20 matches in South Africa in the first two weeks of the new SA20 competition, where icon Graeme Smith (right) is League Commissioner
But the glitz and glamor disguises a seedier side to the tournament. After spending time with CSA anti-corruption officers at some of the six competition venues, Sportsmail may disclose:
– Eight players were thrown out of matches for the illegal practice of pitch-siding – passing live match information from inside stadiums to unlicensed bookmakers – including two from England, three from India, and three from Bangladesh, although anti-corruption officers say the real numbers involved are higher.
– Indian and Bangladeshi gamblers who have been deported are employed by criminal gangs based on the sub-continent, who pay them a daily rate of around £50 including accommodation and food in return for live commentary on the match, which allows them to get information and data ahead of the big gambling operators and therefore beat the markets.
– Individual players can make millions from pitch-siding, with one of the UK-based gamblers fired by anti-corruption officials who openly showed them his career earnings, with a total of £3.8m.
Pitch-siding is banned in all sports venues, as by giving illegal gambling operators a time advantage of up to 10 seconds over those relying on television pictures, it can distort betting scores.
A Sportsmail The investigation has unearthed details of Cricket South Africa’s anti-corruption operation in the franchise’s new tournament, targeting criminal gangs who exploit poor workers
Anti-corruption officials also said Sportsmail with substantial evidence of pitch-siding individuals who are driven to act as go-betweens to facilitate corruption and spot-fixing, especially those working in criminal gangs.
During the SA20 those caught pitch-sided for the first time were ejected from the stadium and given a banning order from all other grounds. Those guilty of a second offense are handed over to the South African police and charged with trespassing, as they have breached the terms of a previous banning order.
While there are some individuals who engage in pitch-siding for personal gain such as the English punter who boasted of his £3.8m winnings, the vast majority are in the pay of illegal gambling syndicates.
At less-attended T20 events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is common to see large groups of men with several phones openly pitched, but with limited resources dedicated to anti-corruption, it remains difficult to prove guilt .
Anti-corruption officials estimate there are around 100,000 bookmakers operating illegally in India with sports betting largely focused on cricket.
The SA20 group stage featured high-profile England stars such as Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer (pictured). There is no suggestion of involvement in any criminal activities
There are no betting shops or legal operators so there is no way to track bets, with every bet and financial transaction carried out digitally.
‘There’s a lot of money to be made,’ said a CSA official Sportsmail. ‘One of the guys from the UK we fired was happy to show us his lifetime earnings, which were £3.8million. I’m not sure how long he’s been gambling, but that’s a lot of money.
‘It’s very difficult to see the pitch-siders at big tournaments, because the stadiums are full and most people are constantly using their mobiles. The number of people caught probably represents a fraction of those actively involved in illegal gambling.
‘Many people start out as pitch-siders and then become corruptors, because they see the potential for bigger profits. Our job is primarily to ensure that players are not approached by these individuals.
‘We take a zero tolerance approach and anyone suspected of illegal gambling or suspicious activity is thrown out of the stadium.’