BBC documentary Can You Beat the Bookies? raises the question of whether courtsiding is unethical or simply gaming the system. Whatever your opinion, there’s a better way to gain a sports betting edge…

In sports betting, beating the bookie is the number one goal. Yes, some of us bet for fun and like the odd flutter on the horses, football or whatever sport we’re into (or happens to be on the telly on an otherwise boring Sunday afternoon). For others, however, sports betting is their living.

When the subject of courtsiding is raised, most professional gamblers rebuff the idea as a cheating tactic that’s wholly unethical. A clip we posted on twitter from the BBC show Can You Beat the Bookies? drew some disparaging replies from knowledgeable industry heads.  For example, Benjamin Pickup (@charganack) replied with, ‘Where greed exists, #unethical behaviours follow close behind’, but is courtsiding really unethical or is it simply a way of gaining the upper hand? 

In 2015, Dan Dobson, a courtsider from London, became the first person ever to be arrested for Courtsiding. At the age of 22, Dan had the enviable task of travelling the world with some friends, while earning a decent salary and watching top-level tennis in his role as a courtsider. 

Dan’s job was to send score updates back to London to a syndicate of gamblers faster than the match umpire could electronically update the scores. This allowed the syndicate to preload bets and be ready to place them the instant a point was won and before the bookies can suspend betting on that play.

In the BBC show, presenter Lloyd Griffith meets with a courtsider who claims he and his business partner made over a million pounds last year from courtsiding. Moving from court to court, “Joe” has found his ways of manipulating the process to his own gain, showing how his balance grows by thousands of pounds in just minutes.

Courtsiding is now fairly common in tennis, forcing the top venues and betting companies to work together to eradicate this form of gambling. The larger Grand Slam venues are installing facial recognition technology, while others have spotters in and among the crowd looking for unnatural behaviour. If found, courtsiders are instantly banned from any future events.  It’s not just the governing bodies and betting regulators, the players are also now joining the fight to end courtsiding. Frenchman Jonathan Eysseric took to twitter, after his match with Remy Bertola, to appeal to the International Tennis Federation to take more action.

So, why risk it? ‘It’s beating the system, and that feels good,’ says Matt, a courtsider from Melbourne. ‘It’s fun because you’re beating the big guys with all the money.’ And maybe he’s got a point. Bet365, for example, made a profit of £2.7bn last year, with CEO Denise Coates netting a tidy salary of £265m. If courtsiders are making a dent in the industry’s profits, it must be an insignificant one.

Courtsiding isn’t the only example of opportunists taking advantage of systemic loopholes for profit. High-frequency stock market traders have bought properties as close as possible to the stock exchange to minimise the milliseconds it takes for a transaction to be sent to the exchange’s servers. Traders have even obsessed over laying the straightest possible fibre-optic cable between computers, such as one between Chicago and New Jersey that author Michael Lewis said was ordered to be, ‘the most insistently straight path ever dug into the earth.’

In stock trading, this is called front-running, and it results in constant high-volume, low-risk yields. And while it creates a technological arms race in finance that ultimately squeezes out lower-volume investors, as with courtsiding, it’s not illegal. Just shady. Very shady.

Thankfully, there’s one very simple, unquestionably ethical way you can gain a competitive sports betting edge. And you don’t even need to grow a dodgy barnet to hide a Bluetooth earpiece.

At betconnect, you can see the bets professional gamblers want to place. Not dubious tips from anonymous sources or hunches from that bloke down the pub who can list every Grand National winner ever. Sign up as a Punter and you’ll be able get Bet Requests direct from professional sports bettors. With our Pro ROIs laid bare for you to see, you know exactly whose bets you’re backing. Courtsiding may be an unethical route to betting success, but if you follow and matching our Pro bets, your conscience will be squeaky clean.  

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