In the UK, the Gambling Commission has revealed that it is investigating betting patterns on a Malta Cup snooker match in which the former world champion and ninth-ranked Peter Ebdon lost 5-0 to outsider Liang Wenbo.
According to reports from The Guardian newspaper, one leading spreadbetting firm that did not wish to be identified testified to net losses of ‘a substantial five-figure sum’ and reported refusing to endorse one bet that would have won the customer $46,292 for Ebdon to lose 5-0. The UK newspaper also reported that another punter wanted to back Ebdon to make no break over 50, which was seen as dubious given that the Englishman passed this mark 72 times in 216 frames of snooker last year. However, Ebdon's highest break of the night was 32, which helped to set off alarm bells.
'He requested far more than he was eventually permitted,' the unidentified bookmaker’s representative told The Guardian.
'Had he got all he wanted, losses would have been well into six figures.'
The Commission comes under the remit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is responsible for regulating betting and can investigate and prosecute illegal gambling under the 2005 Gambling Act. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) governing body has banned two players in its history, Peter Francisco in 1995 and Quintin Hann in 2003, for five and eight years respectively following investigations into betting on matches.
'World Snooker is obviously aware that there was some interest in the match,' a spokesperson for the WPBSA, of which Ebdon is a board member, earning $27,785 a year, told the newspaper.
'However, having considered the matter and followed the proper procedures, including consultation with the Association of British Bookmakers and the Gambling Commission, we are satisfied that the action taken is appropriate.'