Police arrest a British man and say they are seeking a “series of individuals” as part of an investigation into alleged illegal betting that relies on time delays of live television broadcasts.
Much of the coverage of world tennis championships has focused on the challenge of competing in sweltering temperatures of 40C, as a heatwave takes hold of Australia.
But police are now turning up the heat on a suspected illegal betting syndicate, after a 22-year-old man was arrested.
The syndicate is suspected of placing bets during the match, and relying on the time delay of live television broadcast around the world to ensure their bet is placed before points are broadcast and recorded.
The 22-year-old Briton was arrested during a game at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and charged with one count of “engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome,” deputy commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.
“We believe he is part of a syndicate but we don’t yet have the details,” Mr Ashton said. “I don’t (think it’s an isolated incident). I don’t want to talk too much about those individuals for obvious reasons (but) we are alert to individuals.”
Police said they had acted on intelligence from Tennis Australia, the sport’s governing body and organisers of the year’s first grand slam.
The type of betting, known as “courtsiding”, involves a number of people at different locations. A spectator generally uses an electronic device to send a signal to another person at another location to place a bet on the outcome of a particular incident at a sporting event.
The bet is then placed before the legitimate betting agencies are able to close off wagering on a specific event.
“Overseas, certainly there are examples (of courtsiding) in relation to football, in relation to cricket,” said Mr Ashton. “It has been around for several years, it’s particularly becoming more difficult to do because of the speed of communications and technology but it is still very active.
“As we know, the global tennis betting market is in the tens of millions (of dollars) every day.”
Police said they had made the arrest with the help of new legislation targeting sports-related corruption in Victoria state, where the tournament is held.