Snookerbacker weighs in:
'Just a month ago I wrote a blog about the relationship between snooker and the bookies, aware that a ruling was due to be passed on former World Champion, Stuart Bingham and fairly sure that it was likely to be a firmer penalty than the recent ones I highlighted. Today the judgement has been passed.
To read how his ban of six months, with three effective immediately and three suspended was arrived at, click here and here for the finer detail (PDF File).
Before I go on, I’ll declare that I know Stuart and I like him, he has been very generous in supporting my tournament financially in the past for all the right reasons and in my experience is a thoroughly decent chap, it’s not like he’s murdered your granny here so just thought I’d add a bit of perspective given some of the quite nasty comments already appearing online.
The difference between this case and a few of the more recent ones is basically that Stuart failed to cough up when he was rumbled, at least straight away. But as ever in cases like this where the evidence is stacking up, sooner or later you are going to get tripped up, which he has.
There are a couple of points I would like to make. Firstly, the headline figure of £35,771 that was gambled by him and/or his manager goes back to 2003, a period some of which fell under a previous administration (up to 2009), so I’m not sure why this is mentioned in the judgement given the failure/refusal to investigate a notorious fixed UK Championship match from this period for that very reason.
Anyway, that aside. The commonality in this case to the others is that Stuart did not bet on himself to lose, there is no inference, as there should not be, that he ever wilfully fixed matches for his own benefit, he merely backed himself on several occasions.
The main difference for me is in ruling 6(a), which states that Stuart/his manager:
Between 1st December 2014 and 8th November 2016 placed bets with a third party to a value of £4,000 that his highest break in a competition would be beaten. All of which were winning bets, where made a profit of £7,000.
This is something that was out in the open, perfectly within the rules and commonplace in snooker in the 80’s and possibly the 90’s too. A player who holds the highest break bets on it being beaten as insurance, there are still professionals around today that don’t think that this is a problem, after all, why should they lose out if someone happens to beat their break? For the record, all the bets placed of this type won, in other words Stuart’s breaks were eventually beaten.
Here is where I fundamentally disagree with this view, why should a snooker player benefit directly just by virtue of being a snooker player in this position? Nobody else in the betting or wider world would be in a position to exploit this market, so that immediately is a huge advantage to the player in question. That is why the rules are there, it’s to stop any betting on snooker by those involved, not just ‘harmless’ or ‘victimless’ bets. In my opinion, these bets are the most serious flouting of the rules and the reason why Stuart has received a ban, a proper one this time, not fully suspended like most of the others.
He misses a number of big money events, the International Championship, the UK Championship, The Masters, The Champion of Champions, the German Masters, Scottish and Northern Irish Opens, he’s also got £20,000 in costs to fork out so that’s quite a hit in the old back pocket. Unfortunately for him he’s back for the Shootout, which arguably makes the punishment twice as bad.
Just an idea, but perhaps instead of dishing out these suspended parts of the ban, would the WPBSA/World Snooker not be better sending players to a compulsory Gambling Awareness programme? It’s clearly a big issue in snooker and I’d argue that we are merely scraping the surface at the moment. You only have to see the casinos around the venues to know that a lot of these players need help, simply ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
For the record, Stuart has decided to seek independent help for his gambling of his own accord. Something which was welcomed by the WPBSA, though they stressed that they did not think he had an addiction problem.'http://www.snookerbacker.com/