May 16, 2017

Japanese tennis player banned for life over match-fixing charge

Japanese tennis player Junn Mitsuhashi has been banned for life for match-fixing and gambling offences.

The 25-year-old, who reached a career high of 295 in the world in 2009, has also been fined $50,000 (£39,000/€45,000) by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).

He has been found guilty of making corrupt approaches to other players, betting on tennis matches and refusing to cooperate with the TIU investigation.

In November 2015, he asked Joshua Chetty, a player he had previously coached, to approach another player during an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures F1 tournament in Stellenbosch in South Africa.

The player was offered $2,000 (£1,500/€1,800) to under-perform in a singles match and $600 (£465/€543) for a doubles match, the TIU said.

South Africa's Chetty was himself banned for life in September.

Mitsuhashi then made an approach to another player in December 2015, according to the TIU.

This took place at an ITF Futures F4 tournament in Lagos in Nigeria, with the player asked to fix certain aspects of a match.

The Japanese player, who was ranked 1,997 in the world at the end of 2015, was also found to have bet on 76 tennis matches.

"In spite of repeated requests to engage with the TIU, the player refused to respond or co-operate with enquiries into the allegations against him," a TIU statement said.

"Failing to cooperate is an offence in its own right."

Mitsuhashi will not be allowed to play in any tournaments organised by the governing bodies of the sport or even attend the venues.

His case was considered by independent anti-corruption hearing officer Ian Mill QC, who imposed the lifetime ban and fine.

Tennis has faced significant match-fixing problems, particularly at levels where prize money is low.

It was the sport involved in 45 per cent of reported cases of suspicious betting during the first quarter of 2017, according to the European Sport Security Association.

In March, ITF President David Haggerty announced plans for tours with a limit of 750 male and 750 female players.

It is thought that around 14,000 are currently competing among the full-time ranks, with nearly half of these failing to win any prize money.

This, it is thought, can cause some players to be tempted by corruption.

May 11, 2017

New York Senate Finance Committee passes online gaming bill

On Tuesday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would make New York the fourth and most populous US state to welcome legal and regulated online poker. Approved by a vote of 27-9, the bill S3898 now goes to the entire Senate, where a majority vote would send it to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

If it reaches the governor’s desk, there will be a 10-day period where it may be signed into law or vetoed.

Sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, the bill seeks to legalise online poker as a game of skill, or specifically hold’em and omaha, which are deemed by the senator, apparently, to be the most skillful variants. That will be the key point for debate the take place in the Senate.

The Empire State’s long-running efforts to legalise internet poker had first moved forward last february after the legislation passed the Senate Gaming Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The bill originally introduced in late January would authorise the New York State Gaming Commission to hand out online poker licenses at the cost of $10m per license. Under the bill, poker would be classified as a game of skill, which differs from the provision within the state constitution that prevents internet gaming. The state will also be able to enter interstate compacts in order to increase player pools and liquidity.

The bill would amend the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law to permit certain interactive poker games, specifically Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. It would change the definition of poker to constitute a game where the outcome is determined by skill rather than luck, and would regulated without this being considered gaming expansion.

May 08, 2017

Poker Player to eat $1k worth of McDonalds food in 36 hours

A professional poker player has taken up a rather unusual challenge of attempting to eat $1,000 worth of McDonald’s food in 36-hours with wagers topping $200k.

I once took on the Fatty Arbuckle Challenge and failed. My ex-wife came back from the toilet and found pieces of steak in the vase holding the fake flowers, both condiments, and squeezed in between pages of the menu.

Poker Player to eat $1k worth of McDonalds food in 36 hours. My father-in-law at the time also took the challenge. You had to eat a CAFO full of chicken wings, a 28 oz steak with all the trimmings, and a two-pint ice cream sundae.

The trick, it seems, was in the Sundae. My father-in-law used his lighter to melt it and then drank the lot.

But not even my former father-in-law would be able to eat $1,000 worth of McDonald’s in 36-hours, but professional poker player Mike Noori is ready to give it a shot.

The Word Poker Tour (WPT) Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage, is the man behind the idea and here are the stipulations:

– Only $200 can be spent on salads.
– $300 has to be spent on hot food items ($50 of which must be burgers)
– Drinks don’t count
– Cannot remove any items from his orders
– Can add additional foodstuffs to requested items (extra bacon, etc.)
– Must eat everything that comes with the order (except the Happy Meal toy)
– He must eat the food in its original state, no blender
– Puking is ok as long as he doesn’t force the puke or puke repeatedly
– No inflated prices (I.e. Eating in McDonald’s in an airport)

According to the word on social media, there is over $200k in bets already booked, with Noori admitting on Twitter that he only has a small piece of his action.

Noori has already indicated that he will begin the bet by eating $500 worth of apple slices, but even if he goes down that particular orchard, this still ranks as one of the more difficult prop bets to be accepted on the open market (take not Bill Perkins).

One man who knows what he is talking about when it comes to food is Jimmy Fricke, and he believes the bet is impossible.

What Happens if You Consume Over 66k Calories in 36 Hours?

You won’t be surprised to hear that our great God Google didn’t have an answer to that question. And when I asked Alexa she said Sorry I don’t know that one. But I do know what would happen if you ate 6,000 calories per day for seven days straight so you can get some picture.

According to Men’s Health magazine, six healthy guys did eat 6,000 calories for seven days straight while staying in a hospital bed under the name of medical research. The men gained on average 8 pounds per person. They developed insulin resistance, liver complications and extreme oxidative stress.

And who can forget Morgan Spurlock’s SuperSize Me documentary? Spurlock only ate McDonald’s food for 30 days straight in a bid to prove that although the fast food chain won a libel case against a couple of obese girls who laid the blame for the extra poundage on old Ronald, the fast food franchise was still responsible for causing physical harm.

Spurlock ate 5,000 calories per day, gained 11 kilogrammes in weight (a 13% body mass increase), saw his cholesterol shoot up to 230 mg/dL, and lost his libido. It took Spurlock 14-months to shed the extra weight after being placed on a strict vegan lifestyle.

The average healthy males consume on average 2,500 calories per day.

If Noori loses the bet and is still alive, he will have to foot the $1,000 food bill. If he wins, then he has to contribute $500 towards his feast.

My father-in-law?

He won a t-shirt.

May 06, 2017

Chinese fixing syndicate and a real new threat to football as UEFA send report to Athlone Town

Fears are growing that Chinese criminals have taken match-fixing to new levels by buying stakes in European clubs and then organizing corruption of these teams’ fixtures.

A stake in Athlone Town, a club under investigation over an allegedly fixed match in the League of Ireland last weekend, is believed to have been sold to a party ultimately funded by a Beijing-based fixing syndicate.

The same group, control by an individual whose name is known to this newspaper, is understood to have taken interests in lower-league clubs in Portugal, Latvia and Romania where fixing has also been suspected.

Athlone are under investigation by the Irish police, the Irish FA and European football’s governing body UEFA over their 3-1 defeat to Longford Town last weekend.

A confidential UEFA report sent to Athlone on Friday says: ‘There is clear and overwhelming betting evidence that the course or result of this match was unduly influenced with a view to gaining corrupt betting profits.’

Sources say gamblers with inside knowledge profited by around £500,000 from bets placed in the unregulated Asian markets on at least two goals being scored in the first half (Longford were winning 2-0 at half-time), and on four of more goals being scored in the game. Longford went 3-1 ahead in the 87th minute.

Sources say the stake in the Irish club bought by the Chinese firm was lower in value (around £425,000) than estimated betting profits from that one game alone. Athlone have received recent investment but officials have declined to say how much or where from. It is not known if the cash was paid directly from China or via intermediary organisations.

Athlone did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment from the MoS but a club statement said they were ‘absolutely shocked’ by fixing allegations.

Chinese firms have bought interests around 20 clubs across Europe in recent years, almost all of them with no hint of controversy, let alone scandal. But governing bodies will now be on red alert over deals, not least for relatively large sums in the lower leagues. ‘If an investment offer for a “lesser” team seems too good to be true, it probably is,’ says one investigator.

Two other Athlone matches this season caused alarm among market watchers, although it is not known if UEFA are aware of this. One was against UC Dublin on 8 April, which Athlone lost 4-1. Sources from both the ‘integrity’ side of the football industry and in the betting underworld say huge sums were won in that match by bets place on at least five goals being scored in the fixture. UC Dublin’s fourth goal - the fifth in the game - was scored in the 89th minute.

The Irish police will begin an official investigation on Monday.

Athlone have seen a spate of comings and goings among the playing and coaching staff since the mystery investment in the club.

Among the recent arrivals was Latvian goalkeeper Igor Labuts, who has played for at least two other teams where money is believed to have been injected by the Beijing firm - and have been investigated for fixing. He has admitted to being approached in the past by fixers and thwarted their advances, and says he has been shocked by fixing allegations against his clubs.

‘I know that I am clean but it’s unpleasant and my reputation has been damaged,’ he said.

A UEFA spokesman said: ‘UEFA is completely committed to eradicating match-fixing, a disease that attacks football’s very core.’

Sources say UEFA have investigated around 200 matches per season over the last three years in leagues across the 55 nations in their region over suspicious betting patterns and fixing concerns.

Over the past seven years, UEFA has been involved in the successful prosecution of 14 match-fixing cases across the Continent where the guilty parties were banned for between a year and life.

While the ratio of allegations to prosecutions is hugely disproportionate, it is notoriously difficult to prove fixing beyond any doubt. Typically a successful case will involve tracing a money trail on bets and then linking that unequivocally to corrupt players or officials.