Famous sports betting game-fixing scandals

Feb 28, 2024

The biggest worry a league commissioner has is that sports betting will cause players to fix games or cheat in hopes of earning some extra money from nefarious characters. However, point shaving and game fixing have unfortunately already been a part of sports history, including in the MLB, NBA, tennis, soccer, and more. Here’s a look at some of the notable game-fixing scandals that have given those leagues and organizations a black eye in terms of integrity.

MLB

One of the most infamous sports betting game-fixing scandals came in baseball. In 1919, eight players from the Chicago White Sox planned to fix the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The scandal earned them the nickname the “Black Sox”, as it became one of the most interesting yet detrimental events to happen to the sport. As the story goes, eight players - including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson - of the extremely talented White Sox team conspired with professional gamblers to fix the 1919 World Series (SABR).

Although there are still a lot of uncertainties regarding the century-old scandal, it is believed that first baseman Chick Gandil was the one who concocted the scheme with a bookmaker. Gandil recruited a few other White Sox players with the promise of money, and in the en  eight players formed a group with the aim of throwing the series. In a best-of-nine series, the White Sox lost in eight games. Each player was reportedly promised $100,000 for their involvement, but in the end it all fell apart (History.com). 

The scandal was uncovered shortly after the series, and all eight players were given a lifetime ban from baseball. The extreme punishment for these players sent a message to baseball players that has stood for over 100 years: if you try to fix a game, you’re out of baseball forever. The Black Sox scandal was such an important event in baseball history because it wasn’t just the first time that a player had cheated; it was the first time multiple players were cheating and the public found out about it.

NBA

One of the most well-known scandals in NBA history is how former referee Tim Donaghy conspired to fix games for a small fee. Donaghy was making over $400,000 a year as an NBA referee, but he was a gambler and met James Battista soon after becoming an NBA referee. The scheme was set: Donaghy would give his pick to Battista for the game that he was refereeing, and Donaghy would get $2,000 as a fee (ESPN). From 2003 to 2007, Donaghy was feeding Battista picks that were winning at an extremely high rate.

With Donaghy’s inside knowledge of the game and ability to control the action on the court, he became the key to the operation. After giving his pick for the game to Battista, Battista would wager hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on each pick. From 2006 to 2007, the scheme was growing, and a friend of the two, Tommy Martino, said that Donaghy could influence a game "by six points either way. That's what he told me.” (ESPN)

The scheme was uncovered in 2007, and an investigation was launched into Donaghy. After an investigation by ESPN, it was announced that 70% of calls Donaghy made in the 2006-2007 NBA season were on the team he picked (Bleacher Report). Donaghy was fired and sentenced to 15 months in prison for his involvement. 

Tennis

Unlike the previous scandals, one of the most infamous tennis scandals featured hundreds of accomplices. Over 180 tennis players across the world were involved in a match-fixing ring that started in 2014. It began with Grigor Sargsyan in Brussels, who was the leader of the operation (NPR). He was a gambler who was curious if there was a way to gamble on games with a guaranteed outcome. That’s when he learned tennis players in the lowest tier of the professional level make very little money. An idea formed in Sargsyan’s head.

The tennis players in the low tier were not only getting paid very little, but they were also relatively easy to corrupt. Sargsyan grew a network of over 180 tennis players, and the idea of the scheme was this: the player didn’t need to lose the entire match. Losing just a game or set was enough for “spot-fixing.” That was a way to guarantee a win and have the player still be able to win the match or tournament. The players would get $2,000-$3,000 for throwing a game or set in a tournament (NPR).

In 2018, the operation crumbled. Sargsyan was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, and the tennis players were banned from the tour. For the few years that the operation was active, Sargsyan and his crew were making thousands from low-level tennis.

Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular sports for match-fixing scandals. One of the most recent instances was in Brazil in 2022 when numerous players were suspected of conspiring with gangs through sports betting (CNN). Players were given money for certain acts on the field, like getting a yellow or red card. However, this is not unheard of in soccer. Going back to 2000, there have been dozens of instances of match-fixing in the sport.

Another of the most popular scandals came in 2009 when it was discovered that there was match-fixing in the Champions League and Europa League. The Union of European Football Associations said that 40 matches were under investigation for suspicious activity (OLBG). Players, coaches, referees, and match officials were all involved with international organized gangs to fix matches.

Game-fixing scandals in soccer range all over the world in the last few decades, and it remains one of the most vulnerable sports for corruption, especially as betting options on micro-events within matches expands.

Cricket

Game-fixing spans over many different sports - even cricket. One of the biggest scandals in sports history comes from cricket in 2000 when Hansie Cronje accepted money for throwing matches. Cronje was the captain of the South African national cricket team at the time, and he admitted to receiving $10,000 to $15,000 for inside information, but that’s not all (ESPN Cric Info). Cronje confessed to taking over $100,000 in bribes from gamblers for game-fixing instances in his cricket career.

Corruption is sadly possible in every sport, no matter the professional level or popularity.

SOURCES:

The Black Sox Scandal

What Was the 1919 'Black Sox' Baseball Scandal? | HISTORY

How former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games - ESPN

NBA Denies ESPN's Report That Tim Donaghy Fixed Games | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Over 180 professional tennis players participated in a global match-fixing ring : NPR

Brazil launches a federal investigation into soccer match-fixing | CNN

Biggest Match Fixing Scandals - OLBG.com

A timeline of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal | ESPNcricinfo

Managing Gambling Addiction Relapses

Apr 12, 2024

Jonathan

U.S. Sports Betting Statistics April 2024: Legalization, growth & addiction rising

Apr 12, 2024

Jonathan

My Mom Has a Gambling Addiction: What to Do

Apr 8, 2024

Jonathan

Understanding In-Network and Out-of-Network Providers for Behavioral Addictions

Apr 1, 2024

Jonathan

Has America become a “society of gamblers”?

Mar 28, 2024

Jonathan

How Can I Stop My Child From Gambling

Mar 27, 2024

Jonathan

Birches Health Partners with BettorEdge

Mar 20, 2024

Jonathan

Birches Health Announces Partnership with SaharaBets

Mar 19, 2024

Jonathan

Gambling Addiction Rates Hit All-Time High in U.S.

Mar 13, 2024

Jonathan

Signs of Teen Gambling

Mar 13, 2024

Jonathan

Free Gambling Addiction Treatment

Feb 29, 2024

Jonathan

SNL Sports Betting sketch spotlights real Gambling Addiction issues 

Feb 26, 2024

Jonathan

New U.S. Gambling Stats: Record figures as Addiction also grows

Feb 22, 2024

Jonathan

What will be the social costs of increased gambling? Who will pay them?

Feb 19, 2024

Jonathan

Is it Legal to Bet on the Daytona 500?

Feb 16, 2024

Jonathan

Media Takes Note of America's Increase in Problem Gambling

Feb 15, 2024

Jonathan

What are the Psychological Effects of Gambling?

Jan 31, 2024

Jonathan

Is Day Trading Gambling?

Feb 11, 2024

Jonathan

What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Feb 12, 2024

Jonathan

Understanding Behavior Disorders

Jan 23, 2024

Jonathan

The Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, And Treatment (GRIT) Act

Jan 14, 2024

Jonathan

What is the Cycle of Addiction and How to Break It

Jan 9, 2024

Jonathan

I Lost All My Money Gambling. What Now?

Dec 29, 2023

Jonathan

Your 2024 New Year's Resolution: Stop Sports Betting and Online Gambling

Dec 24, 2023

Elliott

Why Do Addicts Relapse?

Dec 20, 2023

Jonathan

Is Gambling a Sin?

Dec 18, 2023

Jonathan

Staging a Gambling Intervention for a Loved One

Dec 13, 2023

Jonthan

Signs of Gambling Addiction in a Spouse

Nov 30, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling and Divorce: Statistics and Information

Nov 26, 2023

Jonathan

What is DFS Gambling?

Nov 19, 2023

Jonathan

Addiction Specialist: Helping You Overcome Addiction

Nov 18, 2023

Jonathan

Exploring the Different Types of Gambling

Nov 8, 2023

Jonathan

Technology Addiction: Signs and Treatment

Oct 30, 2023

Jonathan

Is Options Trading Gambling?

Oct 23, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling Addiction and Treatment

Oct 16, 2023

Jonathan

Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy Options

Oct 14, 2023

Jonathan

Signs of Gambling Addiction

Oct 7, 2023

Jonathan

Is the Stock Market Gambling?

Sep 25, 2023

Jonathan

Tips for Finding a Gambling Rehab Center

Sep 24, 2023

Jonathan

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling

Sep 23, 2023

Jonathan

What Causes Porn Addiction?

Sep 18, 2023

Jonathan

Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023

Jonathan

Porn Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Sep 11, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

Aug 29, 2023

Jonathan

How to Stop Online Gambling

Aug 27, 2023

Jonathan

Does Medicare Cover Gambling Rehab?

Aug 19, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling and Dopamine

Aug 12, 2023

Jonathan

Porn Addiction Counseling

Aug 7, 2023

Jonathan

Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Jul 24, 2023

Jonathan

Signs of a Day Trading Problem

Jul 19, 2023

Jonathan

Why is Gambling Addictive?

Jul 18, 2023

Jonathan

The Arizona Lottery and Gambling

Jul 16, 2023

Jonathan

Is Poker Gambling?

Jul 15, 2023

Jonathan

Is Crypto Gambling?

Jul 14, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling and Sports Betting Among College Students

Jul 8, 2023

Jonathan

Updates made to gambling disorder across the DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-5

Updates Made to Gambling Disorder Clinical Criteria Between DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5

Jul 8, 2023

Cara Anderson

Combatting Gambling and Alcohol Addiction

Jun 30, 2023

Jonathan

Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023

Jonathan

The Seven Types of Gamblers: Are You One of Them?

Jun 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Cara Anderson

Las Vegas - often called the gambling capital of the world

Exploring the History of Gambling in the US

Jun 17, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Gambling Treatment in Arizona

Jun 15, 2023

Jonathan

Voluntary Self Exclusion to Stop Online Gambling

Jun 15, 2023

Cara Anderson

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Gambling Treatment?

Jun 13, 2023

Jonathan

Gambling Addiction Hotline

Jun 5, 2023

Jonathan

How to Stop Gambling

Jun 1, 2023

Jonathan

Can Gambling Addiction Be Cured?

May 31, 2023

Jonathan

problem gambler worried about addiction

Why Is Gambling So Addictive?

May 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Medication that can cause gambling

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

May 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

A man who has regained control of his life by stopping gambling and online sports betting

How to Stop Gambling: Strategies for Regaining Control

May 21, 2023

Cara Anderson

This man stopped gambling by recognizing his online sports betting problem

How to Stop Gambling and Save Money

May 18, 2023

Cara Anderson

People celebrating being free of a gambling addiction

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

May 16, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

The Growing Phenomenon of Cryptocurrency Addiction: What Traders Need to Know About Crypto Addiction

Cryptocurrency Addiction

May 9, 2023

Tobias Jackson

The stock market graph of a day trader who has a day trading addiction

How Day Trading Can Create a Dangerous Addiction

May 4, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Younger individuals gathered around a computer talking about a gambling addiction meme

How Addictive Memes Have Fueled Problem Gamblers

May 2, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man in the middle of taking a Do I have a Gambling Problem Quiz

Clinical Screening Tools and Quizzes to Answer the Question: "Do I have a Gambling Problem?"

May 1, 2023

Tobias Jackson

Insurance paperwork that Birches clients do not need to go through as Birches Health handles all administrative and payment matters for them!

Insurance Coverage for Gambling Addiction in 2023

Apr 29, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Cara Anderson

Man actualizing self care and manifesting his recovery journey from problem gambling and gambling addiction

Self Care for Problem Gamblers

Apr 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

Bad effects of glamorization of gambling in the media in films, tv shows, and podcasts

Glamorized Gambling and What To Be Aware Of

Apr 24, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Therapist offering a problem gambler gambling addiction counseling and treatment

What is Problem Gambling?

Apr 20, 2023

Elliott Rapaport