Sportsbet apologises over Steve Smith betting markets

Australian firm withdraws cricket markets over fears of fixing


Australian operator Sportsbet has withdrawn markets offering bets on minor cricket matches featuring former Test captain Steve Smith after pressure from Cricket Australia.

Batsman Smith was banned for 12 months earlier this year following a ball-tampering row during his team’s series with South Africa.

Smith (pictured) returned to club cricket last week for Sutherland in the Sydney Premier Cricket league, but his comeback was overshadowed by Sportsbet’s decision to offer markets on his performance. Punters could back him to make a half-century, century or take a wicket.

Concerns over the potential for match-fixing were flagged immediately as cricketers at that level are not bound by a code of conduct that prevents them from betting on matches. Premier League players were warned not to bet on the markets.

Cricket Australia has an agreement with approved bookmakers that prevents them from offering bets at Premier Cricket level, and requested that Sportsbet should withdraw the markets.

A CA spokesperson told Fairfax Media: “We have followed up in this instance with Sportsbet to warn them of the breach. Given the low turnover on the market, we’ve accepted their apology as a genuine mistake and also reminded other providers of their obligations.”

After withdrawing the markets and apologising to the cricket authorities, Sportsbet told Fairfax Media there had been “just a handful of bets” taken.

Television network Al Jazeera has produced two documentaries this year alleging that Australian international players have been involved in illegal betting activity.

The first programme, aired in May, alleged that Australian players were involved in spot fixing in India last year. The International Cricket Council launched an investigation into the claims.

A second documentary has yet to be aired, but last month it was reported that Al Jazeera had given Cricket Australia a list of players it is investigating over illegal betting activity in 2011.