Scandals are as old as society itself. Industries and individuals in the public eye try as much as possible to avoid getting involved in scandals, or at least they try to avoid getting caught. Public relations firms make millions of dollars yearly from repairing reputations that are damaged during a scandal. The gambling space was once a controversial industry. Even till date, casinos have to go through rigorous vetting and approval processes if they are to operate within most of the major countries in the world. Gambling is still illegal in many parts of the world as well. Just like every other industry, the gambling industry has its fair share of scandals. Most of these scandals are directly related to the sports industry but some have also rocked other aspects of gambling.
Most Common Gambling Scandals of the Modern World
Boston College Scandal (1978 -1979)
The Boston college scandal was a serious issue from 1978 to 1979 and it is still being referenced to this day as a bad example in the basketball niche. It is one of the top five biggest scandals in college basketball history and it has to do with fixing games. In 1980 a popular Boston college basketball player named Henry Hill was arrested for drug charges. During questioning, he gave a little too much information and the truth about what he and some of his teammates did during the 78 and 79 seasons was revealed. Hill revealed that they were approached by a betting syndicate founded by mobsters Rocco and Tony Perla. The syndicate got greedy and wanted to ensure that they always had an edge during each game. So, they ask the players to shave points. According to Hill, Rick Kuhn was the first player to accept the offer and he was given $2,500 for every game he manipulated to favor the syndicate. When the truth came out, Kuhn and everyone else who was found guilty of points shaving were sent to jail with a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 30 years.
Chicago White Sox Scandal (1919)
The Chicago white sox scandal is one of the most popular scandals to ever have happened in Chicago. It happened when eight members of the Chicago Sox team decided to throw a game against the Cincinnati Reds by the request of the mob. The part of the team that decided to cheat was called the black sox and those who decided to remain honest were nicknamed the clean sox. The black sox met in a hotel just before the game and made a comprehensive plan on how they will throw the game. The plan was executed successfully and the Cincinnati Reds won the competition. Indeed, baseball players didn’t have the kind of privileges they have now and there was no association to support them. However, this wasn’t an excuse to engage in inappropriate behavior. Eventually, they were caught and charged. Some of them claimed that they decided to throw the game because the job threatened them but this didn’t make it any better. While they were all acquitted because the evidence against them disappeared mysteriously, they were banned from playing baseball for life.
MIT Card Counting Team (1980)
Card counting isn’t exactly illegal but it has always been frowned upon by casinos because it gives players an unfair edge over the house and other players. In 1980, J.P. Massar and Bill Kaplan trained a team of 35 card counters who went from casino to casino to count cards and win big. Kaplan was the backer for the team and they handled it like a business. Candidates were tested before they were accepted to join the team. At first, it was just four members but more people joined the team as time passed. All the members of the team were smart students or graduates from prestigious universities like Harvard business and MIT. While the team was primarily known for their card counting skills, this isn’t the only thing they were good at. They carried out advanced shuffle tracking, team strategy, and ace tracking. They were organized and each member of the team had a unique role to play on the casino floor at the same time.
They were legends in their time but they eventually chased out of business. They lost their most important weapon, their anonymity. Over the years, the team has been an inspiration for many movies, TV shows, and books.
Black Friday Gambling Scandal (2011)
To this day, the Black Friday scandal remains the biggest online gambling scandal to affect the United States government. Three of the largest online casinos in the country were indicted by the Department of Justice. They were charged with violating the UIGEA and running illegal gambling businesses. The casinos were Poker Stars, Absolute Poker Full, Tilt Poker, and eleven other companies. After the case was closed, the companies were forced to refund their clients PokerStars alone had to spend $731 million to settle the Department of Justice. They also made a deal to assimilate Full Tilt’s assets and repay their customers since Full Tilt couldn’t stand alone after the scandal. Despite all the effort, both online sites shortly went out of business as the heat and negativity of the scandal was too much.
Tim Donaghy Scandal (2007)
Irrespective of the sport, referees are supposed to be unbiased no matter who is playing. Tim Donaghey was a dishonest NBA referee who placed bets on games he was overseeing and rigged the bets in his favor. During this period, he made over $30,000 from placing these bets. When the FBI started investigating Donaghy, he went into hiding for more than a month. This led to a lot of tension in the league. When he finally resurfaced, he was charged for his crimes and forced to go to prison for 15 months after which he was in parole for three years. Donaghy showed remorse for his actions. During the trial, he said that he was ashamed of his actions.
Full Tilt Poker Scandal (2011)
Full Tilt Poker was an online poker card room that started operations in 2004. It was similar to modern poker tournaments and online rooms but there was a lot of dishonesty involved. The
card room was run by five legendary poker players. On the site, people could play different variations of poker and some variations were mixed games. They could wager as little as
$1,000 or as much as $4,000. Full Tilt Poker eventually became one of the online casinos that were affected by the poker scandal in 2011. However, this wasn’t when this thing started. The site started getting negative press in 2006 when one of the supporters sued them for not giving her the ownership rights she earned. She and many other supporters stopped backing the site and it became widely known as a dishonest site with unreliable founders.
The gambling industry is already a controversial one. Adding scandals to the mix makes it even more controversial. Countries that haven’t made gambling legal believe that it is an immoral practice. So, scandals only make things worse. A lot of money circulates in the industry so do emotions. People must avoid greed because it is the foundation of almost every gambling scandal. It starts with the urge to make a little extra money and often ends with the parties involved being arrested. Let’s not forget about the reputation that is thrown in the trash forever. Points shaving has been a criminal offense for as long as sports have been in existence and it’s always going to be a crime.
Anyone can make money from gambling without being dishonest about it. The best way to boost your chances is to learn everything you can about the game. If it’s a sports event, you should learn as much as you can about the players and make sure that you make an informed decision when placing a bet. Always remember that gambling depends significantly on luck. You will win or lose depending on your luck. Serious repercussions could come from cheating whether you’re a public figure or not.