US Federal authorities have charged 10 people including former University of San Diego basketball star Brandon Johnson, Johnson’s former teammate Brandon Dowdy and assistant coach Thaddeus Brown with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, to operate an illegal sports bookmaking service, and to distribute marijuana.
The investigation grew out of a probe of a marijuana distribution that began about a year earlier.
The indictment alleges Johnson took a bribe to influence the outcome of a February 2010 San Diego game basketball game. The indictment doesn’t specify the game. Authorities have released few details about the operation as they continue to determine the scope of the scheme.
Johnson, a guard for San Diego, is the Toreros all-time leader in points and assists. He currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies NBA D-League affiliate, the Dakota Wizards. If convicted he faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
The Feds didn’t say how the scheme went down but in basketball, typically it means point shaving. Point shaving occurs when a player will do something or rather fail to do something such as hit a couple free throws. By missing his free throws or missing a couple shots, the player is trying to keep his team from covering the spread or keeping the game score under the posted over/under.
This is another great example of how legalized sports betting will improve the purity of the game.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented: “The sporting industry in the United States is a multi-billion dollar a year business. If games are thrown by a small number of greedy individuals who are only hoping to line their own pockets, the entire industry can suffer if the populace believes games are fixed. Therefore, the FBI will continue to pursue those who engage in this type of criminal activity.”
Considering the FBI found this scheme by accident, it’s amazing the FBI doesn’t want help in their pursuit of those greedy individuals.
Point shaving and match fixing is far less common in countries like the UK, where the government regulates sports betting. In the UK, the regulated gaming companies go out of their way to report any suspicious activity to the police for further investigation.
We saw a perfect example of this when Betfair raised a red flag concerning a match between then world no. 4 ranked tennis player, Nikolay Davydenko and then no. 87 ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello.
Davydenko easily beat Arguello 6-2 in the first set but then punters loaded up on Arguello before the start of the second set. Arguello won the second set before Davydenko retired with a foot injury. £3.5 million worth of bets came in before Davydenko’s injury became apparent.
Betfair made the decision to cancel all bets on the second set and immediately reported the suspicious betting patterns to the authorities. This forced the ATP to launch an investigation.
Davydenko was later cleared of any match-fixing allegations but it shows that when the regulated gaming companies and the police work together it keeps the game pure. Unfortunately, the US Government’s continued prohibition against sports betting in 49 of their 50 states make these partnerships impossible.
The gaming companies that operate in the US are illegally taking bets inside the US borders or foreign internet gaming companies, who are regulated but are inappropriately marginalized by the current US system. In both cases, there is no line of communication between law enforcement and the gaming companies. Without that line open, there is no real method to monitor this kind of cheating.
The US System never has and never will ban sports betting in Nevada, all its current system of prohibition for the other 49 states has done, is drive sports betting underground and create more abuses of the players.
Unlike those illegally based in this United States, the reputable foreign regulated companies would never engage in anything like this, unfortunately they don’t have an easy way to pass on the abuses they discover.