News 3 April 2015

WPBSA finds amateur guilty of breaching betting rules

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has found amateur player John Sutton guilty of breaching WPBSA Members Betting rules during an International Championship Qualifying match against Jamie Burnett on 24 September 2014. The Irish amateur player is not a member of the WPBSA and does not hold a World Snooker Tour Card, but had gained access to the competition as an invitee through a Q School [Qualifying School] Amateur ranking. He was summoned to answer charges in February.

‘The WPBSA operates a global governance policy working in partnership with the Betting industry, Gambling Commission SBIU and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) and all competitors in World Snooker events, amateur or professional, are bound by the sports rules and regulations’, read a WPBSA statement. At a 24 March 2015 hearing, the WPBSA found Sutton to be guilty of breaching the following WPBSA Members Rules and Regulations: 2.1.2 (corruption); (to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match) 2.1.3 (misuse of inside information); (to use for betting purposes, or to provide to any other person for such purposes, any information relating to the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match that the ember possesses by virtue of his position within the sport and that is not in the public domain or readily accessible by the public). A sanction hearing will be held at a later date.

UPDATE: On 8 April 2015, Sutton told the BBC that he would be appealing the WPBSA’s finding that he had breached its rules. “I honestly feel that I am being made a scapegoat as I’m a nobody in the world game”, he said. “They can afford to brush me aside while being seen as flexing their muscles by showing zero tolerance for breaches of the rules. If there’s evidence then [they should] make it a criminal case. I am a youth group leader in the local community and my wife and I are also trying to get on the list to become foster parents, both of which have had to be stopped because of these findings.”

Sutton told the BBC that he believes he came under suspicion due to two men placing big wagers on him to lose, both of which practice at his local snooker club. He said that the men are not friends of his, but claimed they had also lost £4,000 on another bet on the same day.

“Straight after the game I was called into the tournament director’s office and it was explained to me about the suspicious betting patterns”, he told the BBC. “I have never been approached by anyone about match-fixing or been aware of a situation of someone I know being approached”. The WPBSA told the BBC it would not be appropriate to comment on the case until the sanction hearing next month.

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