Sporting Data, the company embroiled in the "courtsiding" affair at the Australian Open tennis tournament, used the betting exchange to make its wagers.
The company at the centre of the “courtsiding” affair at the Australian Open tennis tournament was set up by three former Betfair staff, who used the betting exchange to place their bets.
Steven High, Martin Pendlebury and Simon Allen are the three directors of Sporting Data, a company that has shot to prominence in Australia after one of its analysts was arrested courtside at the Open a week ago and charged with “engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome”.
Daniel Dobson, 22, was found to have an electronic device sewn into his shorts and linked to a mobile phone that allowed him to relay back the scores to Sporting Data – enabling the company and its clients to exploit a time lag of up to 10 seconds between real-time play and broadcast pictures.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Sporting Data’s chief executive Mr High said the company had bet £74,346 on the match between Nick Kyrgios and Benjamin Becker at Melbourne’s Rod Laver arena. It made 148 bets on Betfair, whose exchange acts as a middle man to match punters who want to place or lay a wager.
While the exchange does not allow in-play betting on individual points, the information from Mr Dobson theoretically allowed Sporting Data and its clients to gamble on the result of a game, knowing the outcome before those who accepted the wagers.
Mr High, who spent almost seven years at Betfair as senior product manager, said he was “shocked that the police got involved”, adding he was “strongly of the opinion” that Mr Dobson’s conduct was “not illegal” – even under the state of Victoria’s new gambling laws.
In a statement on its website, Sporting Data said “the bets are all determined by the individuals in London and not by the employees on court”, adding: “We have no interest in corrupting the outcome of a match.”
The company makes most of its bets via exchanges because traditional bookmakers subscribe to the ENetPulse service. That takes the score entered by the umpire after each point and is ahead of the broadcast pictures.
Betfair sources said the exchange also uses ENetPulse and relays “this to customers on our website”, though many punters rely on the television pictures.
Mr Pendlebury is a former sportsbook team manager at Betfair, while Mr Allen was a former software engineer at the company.
Curiously, despite a real tennis advantage, Mr High said Sporting Data lost £2,763 on the Kyrgios-Becker match.