A Colombian tennis star has been suspended by his sport’s integrity body for promoting a local online betting site on social media.
In February, Colombia doubles tennis player Robert Farah found himself in hot water after he used his official Twitter account to post a photo of himself riding a gym exercise bike while holding his mobile, on which locally licensed online betting operator BetPlay’s app was prominently featured.
Farah quickly deleted the photo, to which he’d added the phrase “I already bet, you too,” after tennis officials pointed out the potential fallout of a sports star actively promoting betting on a sport that leads all others in terms of suspected match-fixing incidents.
But the damage was done, and the sport’s Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) opened an investigation. On Friday, the TIU announced that Farah had been found guilty of breaching the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, for which he has been banned from tennis play for three months and fined US$5k.
The TIU said it believed Farah, who is ranked 16th in the world and reached this year’s final of the Australian Open with partner Juan Sebastian Cabal, had made an “honest mistake” in issuing the tweet. As such, his sanction was suspended, provided he makes no further ‘mistakes’ of this sort over the next three months.
This is probably as good a time as any for Fecoljuegos, the association representing Colombia’s licensed gaming operators, to be conducting their first study into gaming’s reputation among the Colombian population. The study is due to be released in October at the second edition of the Gaming Market Columbia confab in Bogota.
Colombia made history last year by becoming the first South American jurisdiction to launch a regulated online gambling market. To date, the Coljuegos regulatory body has issued 12 online licenses, including to Italian operator HBG Gaming and America’s Rush Street Interactive. Coljuegos hopes to have 17 online licensees by year’s end.