One of the darkest moments in sports history the 94 Arizona State scandal. The school’s basketball team was part of a point-shaving scheme. In fact, it was an eye-opener for regulators and lawmakers as they formulate rules on how to supervise sports betting.
The 94 Arizona State scandal also showed that bookies can help maintain the integrity of sporting events. Reputable bookmakers don’t need to pay pro leagues integrity fees to perform something they are already doing for years.
As in the case of the ASU basketball team, Vegas sportsbooks uncovered the scheme led by the team’s star player Stevin Smith. According to sports news archives, it involved keeping the Sun Devils from covering point spreads in four games.
In fact, the players and their accomplices reaped the rewards of their illegal act until authorities caught up with them. Instead of a lucrative pro career, they faced prison sentences. According to Smith, he had large football gambling debts that led to his participation in the scheme.
94 Arizona State Scandal
The first fixed match was a home game against Oregon State. The Sun Devils won 88-82 but the score was not close to covering 14 1/2 spread. Nobody suspected Smith, who scored a career-high 39 points. During that game, fellow ASU student Benny Silman and associates bet a total of $500,000 on the game.
Already in the fourth game of the scheme, Vegas bookmakers felt something was wrong with ASU games. Although Washington was the underdog, people were betting for them against ASU.
Operators saw red flags across Vegas bookies. First, unfamiliar faces were betting on the underdog. Second, they were betting the maximum amount. Even the professional gambler became suspicious about the action.
Vegas bookmakers alerted the Nevada Control Board, FBI, and Pac-10 about the suspicious pattern involving ASU basketball games. As a result, an investigation began and several people were convicted several years later.
One lesson learned from the 94 Arizona State scandal is that you should know your regulars if you want to start your own sportsbook. It is also important to always monitor players’ activities.