Without traditional sports to bet on over the past several months, fans have had to turn to new, obscure and often international events to bet on amid the COVID-19 pandemic — which halted most sports worldwide for several months.
Many in the United States, apparently, turned to international table tennis. According to ESPN, sportsbooks in the country saw “hundreds of thousands of dollars” wagered on table tennis each day during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Jersey, however, halted gambling on Ukrainian table tennis on Thursday after concerns that the matches were being fixed, according to ESPN.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement instructed all sportsbooks in the state to suspend betting on all table tennis matches in Ukraine or involving six specific players after it was alerted about match-fixing concerns earlier this week.
The six players included are Liliia Zaitseva, Ivan Gaysin, Karen Dzhanibekyan, Eduard Panichev, Anastasia Efimova and Gleb Zotov. Bets can’t be placed on matches including the six players regardless of where the match is taking place.
The ban in New Jersey will remain for the foreseeable future.
“While there is not yet any evidence that any match fixing occurred in New Jersey, due the nature of the alert, the Division is suspending approval for wagering on all table tennis events in the Ukraine, including but not limited to the Setka Cup, WIN Cup, and TT Cup,” the notice provided to sportsbooks said, via ESPN.
An ESPN report in May found several irregularities with table tennis matches in both Ukraine and Russia, though several sportsbooks and regulators who responded to the network for comment said they didn’t find any irregular betting patterns nor had integrity concerns.
Matches not overseen by the International Table Tennis Federation and the European Table Tennis Union, however, provided the biggest concerns — as it is often unclear who is actually overseeing and regulating the matches. The UTTF, per the report, disqualified 365 players for competing in Setka Cup matches during the coronavirus pandemic.
Indiana has since suspended betting on any table tennis events not run by the ITTF or ETTU, though Colorado and Nevada have carried on normally.
The specific concerns regarding fixed matches aren’t clear, nor is it clear whether the alleged match fixing was taking place in New Jersey or overseas.
One thing, however, is clear: Sports fans in New Jersey will have to find a new sport to bet on for the time being.
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