Daniel Dobson, a British man who has observed the 2014 Australian Open from the stands, has been charged with illegal gambling after it was alleged that he was using an electronic device—which was stitched into his shorts—to relay live information before it aired on delayed television coverage.
As reported by ESPN, Dobson's activity is known as "courtsiding" and can provide an advantage to gambling partners who are watching the action on TV—which can lag up to 10 seconds behind real time:
The charge against Dobson is "engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome", which came into force in the Australian state of Victoria last year and carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. It is also an illegal practice in the UK under the 2005 Gambling Act.
It is thought Dobson was sending updates to an international betting company that could update its odds accordingly. Upon receiving bail, the British tourist has been forced to surrender his passport and could be on the receiving end of a hefty jail sentence if he is found guilty.
Channel 4 News reports comments from Graham Ashton, deputy commissioner of Melbourne police, who believes more than one individual could be carrying out this crime:
We believe he is part of a syndicate but we don't yet have the details. I don't (think it's an isolated incident). I don't want to talk too much about those individuals for obvious reasons (but) we are alert to individuals.
The Daily Telegraph (via ESPN), confirms two incidents of courtsiding at last year's Wimbledon championship, while 23 individuals were thrown out of country cricket matches for the same violation.
While an unfortunate occurrence for organisers, Dobson's arrest adds to a series of unwanted Australian Open headlines that have often focused away from the tennis.
Scorching conditions in Melbourne forced play to stop during the fourth day—per the Associated Press via The Guardian—while also creating havoc throughout the tournament.
One ball boy fainted, as did Canada's Frank Dancevic, while China's Peng Shuai also vomited during her opening match, per Simon Tomlinson of the Daily Mail.
Although weather conditions are difficult to combat at such a large event, especially considering the plethora of outdoor courts, Australian Open officials will be keen to stop illegal activity before it cripples this year's tournament.
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