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World Cup: Bookies find creative ways to exploit system

The New Paper | Saturday, Jun 7, 2014

With the 2014 Fifa World Cup less than a month away, courtsiders - just like broadcast delays - can be expected.

SINGAPORE - All that is needed is a 30-second window.

Such time lags in prestigious events like the 2014 Fifa World Cup, English Premier League or Serie A are part and parcel of the broadcasting process.

The process involves three areas, said Mr Peter Bruce, director of Singapore-based Channel Management APAC at Grass Valley.

They include the initial production work at the stadium, the digital distribution of signals from the sports venue to various distribution points and rights broadcasters, and local distribution of signals to the home set top box and to the TV screen.

Said Mr Bruce: "Delays are normal especially for international events as delays are imposed by digital encoding, distributing and sending of signals.

"Delays will vary, but be between 10 and 40 seconds. The delay is not normally noticed unless you happen to listen to a second source such as an analogue audio signal (radio)."

As a result, pay TV operators, who are at the end stages of the broadcast chain, may face upstream factors that are beyond their control.

So, scouts or courtsiders are hired to relay on-site scoring data (See report on facing page.)

Profits gained by those who successfully beat the broadcast lag can potentially be huge, said Mr Christian Kalb, an expert in the gaming and sports organisation industry.

Mr Kalb from CK Consulting told TNP in March: "Depending on the type and size of bet, and the policy each betting operator has, traditional European bookmakers sometimes accept bets of up to US$100,000 (S$125,000) (while) Asian or some European bookmakers might accept bets over US$5,000,000."

Without elaborating, a spokesman for Singapore Pools said that "the (TV broadcast) time lag is not significant enough to affect our betting operations".

Some betting agencies limit bets to only a few points ahead, while others implement a five-second delay after each transaction.

Some betting agencies may also not be affected if they employ their own courtsiders at football matches.

But are courtsiders legal?

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