Webzine Network World reported Monday that the United States Tennis Association blocked access to online-gambling sites during last summer’s US Open. According to the webzine, the organization used St. Bernard Software’s iPrism Web-filtering system to prevent the event’s 21,000 credentialed participants – including players, guests and journalists – from accessing Internet-betting sites.
The move reportedly came in response to a 2007 betting scandal involving Russian player Nikolay Davydenko. According to USTA Chief Information Officer Larry Bonfante, the organization intended to avert similar scandals at the 2008 event.
“We didn’t want people at the event to have access to gambling sites,” Bonfante told Network World. “Even if it’s just the perception, we just didn’t want people to have access… so we bolted it down.”
The USTA cited “ease of installation” and “flexibility in reporting” as the two qualities that sold it on using iPrism at both the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows – where the annual Long Island event takes place – and the organization’s headquarters in White Plains, N.Y.
Still, according to Bonfante, there were some 17,000 attempts made to access online-gambling sites during the two-week event.
“What the rationale there was for all this, we don’t know,” Bonfante said.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced Friday that it is investigating over a dozen Korean baseball players in connection with illegal online gambling. According to the Korea Times, officials suspect 12-14 current players, as well as one-time player and television personality Kang Byung-kyu.
The Koran Times reported that the current players are members of two local teams and that some of those suspected by prosecutors are national stars. Authorities allege that the players gambled more than W1 billion ($677,048) playing online baccarat on illegal sites run by Korean nationals abroad. The Won (W) is South Korea’s national currency.
Officials say the sites in question are not the same as those they suspect Kang of using. Kang – a retired baseball player and host of the country’s popular “Vitamine” TV show – is one of 130 Korean nationals summonsed because of their connection with an illegal baccarat ring in the Philippines.
Prosecutors say Kang sent nearly $1.2 million to the ring, whose four operators earned approximately $100 million over an 18-month period.
Both accusations are the result of the National Police Agency’s crackdown on illegal Internet gambling in September and October, in which it rounded up over 1,681 people. Police say that 113 of those arrested operated the 729 gambling sites they shut down and that the other 1,568 were either gamblers or operated online currency exchanges.
Prosecutors plan to question the 12-14 unnamed players, saying, “We found that one player who had won a large sum stopped gambling after receiving a message from the site operator saying, ‘We believe you have cheated. If you continue gambling on our site, we will let your team manager know that you gambled here.’”
The Korea Times indicated that KBS, the network that airs “Vitamine,” is seeking to replace Kang with another host.