Basketball NZ to crack down on NBL 'courtsiding'

19:58, May 30 2014
SAM ROSSITER-STEAD: The NBL chairman has said they have sent out a "very strongly-worded letter" to their teams in relation to being vigilant around 'courtsiding'.
SAM ROSSITER-STEAD: The NBL chairman has said they have sent out a "very strongly-worded letter" to their teams in relation to being vigilant around 'courtsiding'.

Basketball New Zealand will crack down on instant information from national league games being transmitted for gambling purposes.

The practice of 'courtsiding' takes place when a spectator or spectators at a sporting event sends or uses immediate information on scores and activities in a game which assists betting.

The Waikato Times understands people have been employed in basketball stadiums around New Zealand to send back constant score updates from National Basketball League games to overseas associates.

Two people have been seen allegedly feeding play-by-play details through by phone on Waikato Pistons games throughout this season's NBL at Hamilton Boys' High School, while Fairfax Media understands the same alleged activity is occurring at games in Wellington, Palmerston North and Napier, and possibly at some South Island venues.

The instant information provided allows either a bettor to gain an advantage over a sportsbook offering in-play betting, or for a sportsbook to provide more accurate odds on the game in progress.

The practice is unlikely to be ruled illegal under gambling regulations in New Zealand, but NBL chairman Sam Rossiter-Stead said the league is out to halt the activity.


''We've sent a very strongly-worded letter to all of our teams asking them to be vigilant,'' Rossiter-Stead told the Waikato Times.

''Although this practice is not illegal, it's certainly highly undesirable and we have asked teams to eject spotters from their venues and trespass them from future games.''

He said the league has taken advice from the TAB, who haven't spotted any unusual betting patterns in bets placed with the TAB.

New Zealand's only sportsbook don't offer 'in-play' wagering on the NBL until the playoffs when games are televised live. ''So there's no reason to believe there is anything untoward in regards to match-fixing,'' he said.

New Zealand Cricket confirmed last week that a spectator was thrown out of a 2013 international between the Black Caps and England in Hamilton on suspicion of 'courtsiding'.

The man was was asked to leave Hamilton's Seddon Park during a one-day international after being approached by an International Cricket Council Anti-corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) officer.

A spectator was ejected from the Heineken Open tennis tournament in Auckland in 2012 for suspicion of using an electronic device to aid betting information, while a British man was arrested at this year's Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne for 'courtsiding', which was considered to be a crime in the state of Victoria.

However, the case was dropped before going to court due to doubts over the illegality of the practice, and such concerns exist in New Zealand too.

Under the Gambling Act, bookmaking and remote interactive gambling are prohibited in this country - apart from those approved by the Racing Board and Lotteries Commission.

The definition of remote interactive gambling includes "gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device" but is only prohibited in NZ - it's not illegal for someone in NZ to gamble over the internet on an overseas-based website.

Also, people alleged to be involved in 'courtsiding' can claim that they are only providing information on what happens during a game and are not betting on that fixture.

It's understood overseas gambling websites provide bettors with the option to wager on the winning side while a NBL game is in progress - known as 'in-play betting', with the possibility of also being able to wager on the total number of points scored in a game 'in-play'.

Live scoring of NBL games is provided through a link on the Basketball NZ website but the server for the site is prone to crashing regularly, while the live scoring update - when available - is often notably behind the on-court action.

A number of NBL games are live-streamed to view on the internet, but are also on delay, which means 'courtsiding' offers the immediately informed bettor or bookmaker to have an edge with their information.