Whether or not you frequent live sporting events, if you’re a tennis or basketball fan, chances are that you’ve heard the term “courtsiding” in the news recently. This practice has been significantly increasing in popularity at professional tennis and basketball events, causing chaos in the world of sports betting. Some countries have banned it altogether, while others consider it perfectly legal. So what is courtsiding, why is it so controversial, and how could it affect problem gamblers? Here’s everything you need to know
What Is Courtsiding?
According to the Tennis Integrity Unit, courtsiding is a form of sports betting involving a person at the match relaying information to someone else (usually by phone). After receiving the data, the other person then places bets using a sports betting app or another type of digital sportsbook platform. Courtsiding is especially popular at tennis matches but has also become a problem at basketball games and cricket matches.
Why Courtsiding Is Controversial
At first glance, calling a friend on the phone to tell them how a tennis match is going doesn’t seem sinister — even if sports betting is involved. But the reason courtsiding is so controversial isn’t just because it’s being used for gambling purposes. It’s because some people consider the practice unfair and shady. There is always a short broadcast delay between the actual airing of the match and the event happening live, so these few extra seconds can be critical for someone placing a bet online. Some people simply use this method as a get-rich-quick scheme for themselves and the person at the event. Still, others take it even further and join illegal betting syndicates, communicating betting odds and sports data through a complex criminal network.
Courtsiding isn’t just taking advantage of a time delay to improve betting odds. Officials also worry that it could lead to other problems, such as match-fixing. Because advanced knowledge can make a huge difference for sports bettors, it can lead to all kinds of corruption in the professional sports world.
Widespread backlash surrounding courtsiding began in 2014 when a man was arrested for it at the Australian Open. He was using a device sewn into his clothes to communicate live sports data to an associate, who was placing bets online before the time delay caught up. Since then, the practice has gotten many people ejected, even including a few tennis umpires.
Courtsiding is currently in different states of legal limbo throughout the world. The general practice is to eject, ban, and fine people caught courtsiding from sports events. In 2016, the United States banned 20 spectators from the US Open for 20 years each after they were caught courtsiding. They couldn’t be charged with a crime because they did not technically violate any laws, but their ban has been strictly enforced since then. During the 2020 French Open, a Spanish tennis player, Gerard Joseph Platero Rodriguez, was charged with courtsiding, the first player to be charged for the practice. He was fined $15,000 and suspended for four years.
How Courtsiding Can Exacerbate Problem Gambling
Just like how there are certain drugs that cause gambling problems, courtsiding can also exacerbate problem gambling. If you have a gambling problem, courtsiding can worsen the issue since it can feel like a way to “cheat the system.” However, don’t show up at your nearest professional tennis match and assume you’ll get away with it. Both courtsiders and match-fixers are frequently fined tens of thousands of dollars and often permanently banned from events. Some countries are even using facial recognition software to track down offenders in the audience. If you want to engage in sports betting, do so responsibly, safely, and legally from the comfort of your own home or in an appropriate venue.
Have a Gambling Problem? Get Help Today
Are you struggling with problem gambling? If you can’t seem to stop sports betting or want to find a Gamblers Anonymous meeting near me, call 800-GAMBLER. Our toll-free helpline is confidential and operates 24/7 to connect you with resources in your community. Give us a call now — we’re always here to help.