Bumper crowds have attended the NBL this season. Picture: Brett Costello
Bumper crowds have attended the NBL this season. Picture: Brett Costello

Illegal gambling rings infiltrating NBL, WNBL

ROGUE bookie scouts are being busted weekly at Australian basketball venues.

Basketball Australia has confirmed the "data scouts", deployed by illegal offshore bookmakers and also known as "courtsiders", are targeting NBL and WNBL matches in every state.

News Corp has established the crackdown has already netted 16 evictions, including two from Melbourne Arena, one of Australia's most protected venues.

Due to Australian Open requirements, Melbourne Arena is protected by monitored, closed-circuit cameras scanning the crowd during matches trying to identify any wrongdoers.

The WNBL has been most affected, with matches often played at venues ill-equipped to identify rogue operators.

The live streaming of matches, which results in up to 15-second delays, also plays into the hands of dodgy gamblers.

There is no suggestion any Australian basketball matches have been compromised by the data scouts or their employers.

A source confirmed most, if not all, of those sprung this season were Asian students, who in some cases had been duped into thinking "courtsiding" was an accepted practice.

While not illegal, data scouting is a breach of the general ticketing terms and conditions.

Australian basketball royalty Liz Cambage, Lauren Jackson and Andrew Bogut. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Australian basketball royalty Liz Cambage, Lauren Jackson and Andrew Bogut. Picture: Tim Carrafa

Basketball Australia's head of women in basketball, Lauren Jackson, endorsed the crackdown.

"This is a side of sport I never really knew existed until I got into administration," retired Opals legend Jackson said.

"Now, how prevalent it actually is, it is mind-boggling, we have got to be really vigilant in the way we put our sport on show and our stance towards this.

"The first six rounds of the (WNBL) I'm pretty sure there's not too many games that have gone by where they haven't been escorted out of the venues."

Courtsiders basically feed point-by-point commentary to underground gambling syndicates in real-time to get an edge on market fluctuations.

"That 15 seconds buffer could potentially be a very worthwhile pay off," Jackson said.

Courtsiders are being caught every week. Picture: Sarah Reed
Courtsiders are being caught every week. Picture: Sarah Reed

"I think it's something that's probably across all sports but we definitely have got Basketball Australia on to it, clubs know who they are (and) what they look like."

The development follows Cricket Australia's revelation last month that more money is wagered on a Women's Big Bash League fixture than any given NRL or AFL match, with 90 per cent of the interest from the subcontinent markets, including crime gangs that set up illegal betting rings.

Basketball Australia introduced a courtsiding policy last year and remains "hyper-vigilant".

The sports' integrity unit provides all NBL and WNBL teams with targeted education on identifying rogue data scouts and weekly eviction updates.

The NBL is officially partnered with a data analytics company, which relays play-by-play information to authorised and licensed bookmakers.

News Corp Australia


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