For as long as there have been professional sporting events, there has always been some sort of gambling to accompany a match. Dating all the way back to the 1919 World Series, the purity of sporting events has been marred by match fixing and point shaving. Some athletes who were found guilty participated simply to earn some extra money on the side. Others participated because of addiction to gambling itself, drugs, or alcohol.
The scandals and controversies aren’t limited to only players either. The NBA has seen referees such as Tim Donaghy lose their job over giving away inside information, the NHL had an assistant coach take bets from players (including Wayne Gretzky), and the MLB has had coaches be found guilty of stealing to pay off gambling debts.
With the globalization of sport, it is now easier than ever to place a bet on a professional sporting event. Throughout the world, the sports betting industry has grown to nearly $500 billion a year, with over 90% of all European bets placed on European futbol matches. And despite it being illegal in the United States outside of Las Vegas, millions of Americans are willing to shell out big bucks on the largest sporting events of the year. Here are some of the most impactful and largest sports betting scandals and controversies from around the world in the last century.
10 2007 NBA Betting Scandal
9 Michael Vick’s Dog Fighting Ring
8 New York Mets Manager Pleads Guilty
7 2009 European Futbol Scandal
6 Sumo Wrestling Match Fixing in Japan
5 Paul Hornung and Alex Karras Get Busted
4 1978-79 Boston College and the Mob
3 1951 NCAA Point Shaving Scandal
2 Pete Rose Gambles on the Hall of Fame
1 1919 Chicago Black Sox
In a city like Chicago during the early 1900s, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the world of sports was infiltrated by organized crime. During the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, eight players were accused of intentionally throwing the series in exchange for cash. For various reasons, the players had decided to throw the series and there was evidence of massive bets coming in on the Reds before the start, causing their odds to fall rapidly. Announcers took notes of this and kept notes on players they felt were playing out of character. The Sox lost the bets of nine series in eight games and in September 1920, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte admitted to a Chicago Grand Jury their involvement in the scheme. Even though the jury acquitted all players, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first ever MLB Commissioner, placed all eight players on the ineligible list.
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