Yesterday’s news that several bookmakers had suspended betting earlier this month on a televised snooker match in the UK between professionals Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett has prompted swift action from the Government.
According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has announced that its Parliamentary Select Committee would investigate suspect betting patterns in sport as part of a wide-ranging review of recent legislation in the area.
The investigation will he headed by John Whittingdale, the Conservative member of Parliament for Maldon and East Chelmsford, and is scheduled to begin early next year. The Committee will take evidence from sporting bodies and bookmakers including information surrounding the controversy over last Friday’s match at the UK Snooker Championship in Telford.
The hullabaloo began after bookmakers including Stan James, Victor Chandler and Ladbrokes pulled their odds on the first-round match between the two after receiving a number of sizeable bets on the world’s second-ranked player, Stephen Maguire, beating 45th ranked Jamie Burnett by precisely nine frames to three. Following the bookies’ decision, Burnett was defeated by Maguire by this exact margin and even missed a black in the twelfth frame that would have made the score eight frames to four. According to The Guardian newspaper, the two Scottish players occasionally practise together but have denied any complicity in fixing the score.
Bookmakers are warning that snooker could lose its public appeal and sponsorship income if the game's governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is not also seen to thoroughly investigate the allegations.
'Casual punters will be turned off,' said Ian Marmion, Trading Director for Victor Chandler.
'Are you going to have a bet on a match if you think it's fixed? There are bigger ramifications for the sport.'