Fri, Dec 9, 9:45am by Staff Writer
Next month’s Australian Open will not feature any of the courtside advertisements from betting agency William Hill after the negative reaction from fans over signage in 2016.
According to Tennis Australia (TA) president Steve Healy, there were a couple of factors that led to the decision, including the match-fixing scandals that have continued to plague the sport throughout 2016.
There was a backlash against the advertisements which has led TA to cut the agency’s presence from the showcourts at Melbourne Park. TA will not say if it has meant the Australian Open will experience a cut in sponsorship money.
“We need to put it in perspective. The arrangements that were struck with William Hill before this issue had such a high profile and so we’ve worked with our partners to address that.” Healy told the ABC.
Healy also said that there is no problem with the tournament’s ongoing relationship with the bookmaker and that the sponsor assists with the sport’s anti-corruption campaign.
The relationship between TA and William Hill is the first such arrangement for one of tennis’ majors.
TA has beefed up its integrity unit over the past year and for the first time will have two investigative officers on site to monitor suspicious betting at the Open.
One of them is former Northern Territory police officer and teacher, Peter Peterson.
“There’ll be no matches specifically targeted,” he said.
“It’ll just be random matches and from that then we’ll just be looking at the data.”
With its international counterparts and law enforcement in an Open setting, it will be a learning curve for TA to see how its integrity unit works.
The Australian Open 2016 doubles match between David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena and Lukasz Kubot and Andrea Hlavackova was investigated this year after suspicious betting activity.
That investigation as perceived to be bungled and no action was taken.
To tackle the issue of match-fixing, TA has been conducting education classes to target young players.
Healy believes that increasing the amount of education that players receive regarding match-fixing will also play a key role in stamping out the issue.
“Our role is to make sure that all of our Australian players are educated, they understand the risks, the deceptions that take place that might leave them into something unseemly,” Healy said.
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