Throwing a Match

A Russian tennis star probably should have talked to Pete Rose before last year’s French Open. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Russian tennis star Yana Sizikova was arrested at this year’s French Open over allegations she fixed the doubles match she played at last year’s tournament when she hit two double faults, and coincidentally, investigators noticed “irregular betting activity” on the match. In the US, betting on a team can get you kicked out of a league if you play for it—as Pete Rose can tell you—but is the act of throwing a match actually illegal?

When the Supreme Court struck down the law prohibiting sports betting, some speculated it would lead to match fixing and about half the states introduced sports betting laws—but those that even contained criminal penalties at all focused on failure to get proper licenses, not on criminalizing the actions of the players. Now, if a player’s action is part of an organized crime ring, she could potentially be arrested for racketeering. And Pete Rose went to jail for failing to report gambling earnings, but for athletes, being forced out of the sport they love may actually be a bigger penalty.

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