American player Reilly Opelka has called for a greater push to regulate gambling in the sport, saying he gets death threats from the punters every time he loses.
Opelka has been on board with Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil’s breakaway player body – the Professional Tennis Players’ Association – and wants the new body to look into the serious malaise of betting in the sport, which usually targets lesser known players in obscure tournaments.
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“That solves so many problems, if you regulate the gambling—which is going to happen no matter what—and they make a lot of money,” Opelka told the Racquet magazine in a recent interview.
“I know, because every time I lose, I get all these death threats. And tennis is a very bet-upon sport and it goes on all year. Gambling companies, I’m sure they want write-offs, and want to throw money into it.
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“At the Challenger level—I think every single one should be played for $30,000. And you have guys from 75 to 200 playing for 30 grand at the Challenger level each week, expenses covered, that would be great. I think they’d be really happy about that.”
Lower-level tournaments like the Futures and Challengers, where players fight for survival every single week, are fertile grounds for punters as the prize money on offer is very low.
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In December alone, two players have received bans for fixing matches and courtsiding (transmission of live scoring data from a match to a third party for betting purposes).
Spanish player Enrique Lopez Perez, former World No 154, was banned for eight years and fined US $25,000 for fixing matches on multiple occasions in 2017 while Ukranian player Stanislav Poplavskyy was slapped with a life ban.
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“That’s definitely a focus (for PTPA),” added the 6’11 Opelka.
“I’m sure they have more things to tackle, but that sounds so easy to do. I think Vasek’s done a great job of organizing everything and doing all the dirty work that I personally don’t know how to do.
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“When he was injured he had the time to do it. I hate phone calls back-to-back all day long. He did so much dirty work for free. Because again, for one reason: He just cared a lot about (tennis).”