Sportradar recently became the new integrity partner of the National Basketball League (NBL). When the deal was signed, it was hailed as a revolutionary one for both the sports analytics company and the Australian basketball competition.
However, fast forward several months into the future and Sportradar and the NBL are now facing some serious questions from Australian gambling regulators.
Working with at Least Nine Illegal Offshore Bookies
NBL’s integrity partner is said to have produced and delivered unauthorized live feeds of NBL matches to offshore sportsbooks deemed illegal in Australia.
These offshore bookmakers accept Aussie players even though they are not supposed to and at least nine of them are in breach of Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act for doing this. All of these offshore bookies use Sportradar’s live data.
Almost all of these illegal betting sites are licensed and regulated by the Curacao Gaming Authority. The gambling regulator from the Caribbean island is not known for being very strict when it comes to handing out licenses. This notion is reaffirmed by the fact that these betting companies continue to operate unhindered despite accepting Aussie punters when they are not supposed to.
When you analyze the data that these bookmakers use, it is easy to see that they are getting all of their live feeds from Sportradar, NBL’s new integrity partner.
Collecting Betting Data Illegally
Accepting Aussie punters is one part of the problem for Sportradar. The other is the fact that it collects live data feeds from basketball games that can be used for betting purposes. And that’s not something that is covered in Sportradar’s deal with the NBL.
Sportradar said that it didn’t see anything controversial or against the law in “covering” matches, as well as offering in-game information to bookmakers.
A spokesperson for the sports data company said that they agreed to monitor broadcasts of games and that they were doing this when they were providing live feeds from games to bookies.
The spokesperson didn’t say whether they were in breach of contract, as Stats Perform, a rival company, has the exclusive rights to collect and deliver data in the manner Sportradar is doing right now. However, he claimed that was “common practice” among sport data companies and that it was “perfectly legitimate.”
Sportradar’s spokesperson concluded his statement by saying that Sportradar was not a regulatory body and that they didn’t have any enforcement powers, so couldn’t control which players bookies accepted.
A Ban for Courtsiding in 2017
Even though Sportradar tries to convince everyone that it operates by the book, its past record is far from spotless. In 2017, Sportradar scouts attended Australian basketball games uninvited in what is now known as “courtsiding.”
Courtsiding is reporting and sending live data from games to offshore bookmakers. The scouts who do this, attend amateur and semi-professional games and later sell the information they collect to illegal betting sites that adjust odds and markets right away.
Now, this might not seem like a problem, but it can easily turn into one if you are trying to tamper with the outcomes of matches. Amateur and semi-professional games can be more easily manipulated than professional matches and that was one of the reasons why Sportradar’s scouts were banned from attending Australian basketball games.
Incredibly, with the new integrity partnership deal, Sportradar will cover the second tier of Australian basketball, the NBL1, in addition to the professional NBL. In other words, the same company that was banned from lower-tier basketball games four years ago is now the official partner of said lower-tier games.
Basketball Australia, which governs the NBL, and the NBL declined to comment on the matter. Instead, they released written statements.
Basketball Australia said that it required “certain integrity measures” that all basketball bodies should adhere to. The NBL stated that all of its deals when it comes to betting comply with the National Integrity Framework. It also said that it never had any agreement with Sportradar regarding selling sports betting data.