Australians have long been lovers of spectating sports, and we are increasingly also keen on sports-betting. Sports betting touches on a broad range of legal implications including the illegal betting practice known as courtsiding.
Courtsiding is the practice of using or relaying live match results to obtain a financial advantage in betting. It most commonly occurs when a person attending a live sporting event relays a match outcome to a person betting (bettor) or a betting agency. This information can then use this information to place a favourable bet given the slight delay between the live result and the result being widely and internationally broadcasted. Courtsiding can occur in any sport, but it has been particularly prevalent in tennis.
Courtsiding is outlawed in Victoria under the Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) and carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.
Section 195F of the Crimes Act provides:
1 A person who—
- (a) possesses information in connection with an event or event contingency about conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency; and
- (b) knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the information is about conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency—
must not, if the information is relevant to the bet—
- (c) bet on the event or event contingency; or
- (d) encourage another person to bet on the event or event contingency in a particular way; or
- (e) communicate the information, or cause the information to be communicated, to another person who the first person knows or ought reasonably to know would, or would be likely to, bet on the event or event contingency.
2 In a proceeding for an offence against subsection (1)(d) or (e), it is not necessary to prove that the other person actually bet on the event or event contingency concerned.
These laws were first put to test in 2014 when 22-year-old UK national, Daniel Thomas Dobson, was arrested for courtsiding at the 2014 Australian Open. Mr Dobson was found relaying match results of tennis match to his betting agency employer via a hidden electronic device. However, the prosecution withdrew the charge against Mr Dobson as it was believed there no reasonable prospect of conviction in the case.
A more recent case of courtsiding occurred in July 2019 where Spanish tennis player, Gerard Joseph Platero Rodriguez, was caught courtsiding at an ITF M15 tournament in Pittsburgh, USA.
Mr Rodriguez was found to have contravened the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program. He was convicted, fined $15,000 and was prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis events for three years and six months.
With social media access (and a culture of immediacy) now entrenched in our way of life, spectators need to be cautious of the match information they are relaying to others when attending live sporting events.
If you need assistance, please contact Paul Horvath at SportsLawyer on 9642 0435 or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nothing in this article should be relied on as legal advice. The contents of this article should be regarded as information only, and for specific legal matters, independent advice should always be sought.