Police to crack down on illegal cricket betting

2:48 pm on 15 February 2015

The TAB says so-called courtside betting is a global problem and the police will be cracking down on it during the Cricket World Cup.

The crowd at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch during the opening Cricket World Cup match, New Zealand versus Sri Lanka.

The crowd at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch during the opening Cricket World Cup match, New Zealand versus Sri Lanka. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Several people were evicted from the match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Christchurch yesterday, for electronically sending match updates to bookies overseas, just seconds before the live coverage reached their countries.

The practise known as "courtsiding" involved people at a game relaying information via smartphones or mobile communications devices to gambling syndicates to take advantage of broadcasting time delays.

The practice was different from match-fixing, which was made illegal under New Zealand's Crimes Act last year, where a pre-determined outcome was assured.

Local media reported witnessing several people being escorted out of the ground in Christchurch and police later said they had been in breach of the ticketing regulations under suspicion of the practice.

TAB spokesperson Mark Stafford said it was mostly illegal bookmakers involved.

He said the TAB put a nine second delay on a bet after it was placed online.

Mr Stafford said the International Cricket Council and the New Zealand police were well onto the problem.

"I know that the cricket anti-corruption unit is one of the most advanced in the world as far as the sports bodies go.

"I also think part of the reason people think cricket is one of the worst (sports in terms of corruption) is probably because cricket is so good at catching people, I know they've gone to unbelievable lengths."

The officer in charge of the police's World Cup operation Superintendent Sandy Manderson said they knew what to look for.

"We're aware that people are attempting to operate at venues and they will be detected, evicted and trespassed from all venues."

She said if they go to any other Cricket World Cup matches in New Zealand they will be arrested and taken off site.

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said he was confident the ICC were doing all the can to stop the practice of courtsiding.

"There will still be elements who will try and take opportunities in these tournament and I think the ICC have it as under control as they can, I think the fact that they evicted people was a good sign."

New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs in the game, which was largely incident free - though two streakers stormed the field in the final moments of the event.

Both were brought down by security staff before they got close to any of the players and were escorted out of the venue.