14 Jul

Athletes that Gamble Part 2: Point Shaving

In this article we will take a look at some cases where college athletes influenced the outcome of games to help illegal bookmakers and gamblers make money.

One of the biggest arguments for legalizing gambling across the United States is that it would bring more transparency to the industry. Currently, in Las Vegas, if any irregular betting patterns are noticed they are immediately reported to authorities for a potential investigation. The same holds true in other countries where gambling is legalized. If bookmakers notice suspect betting, market activity is usually suspended and an investigation takes place to see if any illegal activities have taken place.

While point shaving rarely occurs, it is usually only discovered after the fact, when someone involved either blows the whistle on the scheme or gets in trouble with the law and turns others in to save himself.

These schemes typically work much better with college athletes than professional athletes, because professional athletes are paid well already, while college athletes do not earn anything for playing and are typically not well off financially. Bookmakers and gamblers use this to their advantage to bring the college athletes in on schemes in exchange for a small piece of the action.

This is exactly what happened with the Boston College basketball team in the late 1970’s. A few gamblers were friendly with one of the better players on the team and recruited him and some fellow teammates to be part of a point shaving scheme. While the results throughout the scandal were mixed, it is believed that those involved made several hundred thousand dollars over the course of the season as they bet on Boston College to cover or not cover the spread many times. The point shaving scandal was uncovered after the season when one of the men involved was arrested for other crimes.

Most recently it happened in 2010 at San Diego, when star player Brandon Johnson is alleged to have been involved in illegal gambling activities and shaving points to help illegal bookmakers. It is believed that those involved in this scandal made over $120,000 betting against USD. USD would typically be heavily favored and would not cover the spread in the games in question. This scandal was uncovered unintentionally as part of an investigation into other crimes.

While there have been no known incidents since 2010, it is impossible to say how frequently point shaving still occurs in college basketball. With so many teams and games, it is very easy for corrupt gamblers to get in touch with a member of one of the teams because the players are easily accessible on campus. When large sums of money are involved it is very easy to corrupt a player or two and take advantage of the situation.