COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO CRICKET MATCH FIXING AND RELATED MATTERS
HELD ON: 07-06-2000
AT THE CENTRE OF THE BOOK
MS BATOHI: Yes, thank you.
The witness will be Neill Andrews, he is just outside, he won't be a minute.
COMMISSIONER: Mr Andrews, if you will stand for a moment, I am going to administer the oath to you.
NEILL ANDREWS: (sworn states)
COMMISSIONER: Yes, Ms Batohi?
EXAMINATION BY MS BATOHI: Thank you Mr COMMISSIONER. Mr
Andrews, is it correct that you have been involved in the gaming and wagering industry for about 15 years?
MR ANDREWS: On and off, yes.
MS BATOHI: Can you just explain to the Commission what your involvement in that industry has been?
MR ANDREWS: My fundamental beginnings were in horse-racing, horse-racing thoroughbred industry, and continues to be so. But at a time when international betting was moving to being a broader betting basis to include sport, which has happened probably over the last two decades, and subsequently from sports betting to a new type of betting called "spread-betting", at the time when I was employed by M-Net and specifically IGN, which stood for International Gaming Network, that particular business was looking at opportunities of expanding betting in South Africa to include sports betting legally and also from a corporate point of view, in other words looking at the introduction of a corporate sports betting entity.
I was involved in the research and negotiations of getting that off the ground, and the subsequent beginning of what was initially known as IGN Sportsbook and subsequently Superbet, which is or was a spread-betting enterprise.
MS BATOHI: When was this introduced into South Africa?
MR ANDREWS: Officially in 1998, but there were some companies and individual bookmakers who would ordinarily have been horse-racing bookmakers, who were starting to trade on sport over a period of time, but for official purposes basically 1998.
MS BATOHI: Mr Andrews, the reason why I called you is to give the inquiry an overview as far as, and an understanding of betting in South Africa. There have been terms like "spread-betting, line betting", etc, that have been bandied around. What I would like you to do is to explain to the Commission basically what spread-betting or line betting is all about.
MR ANDREWS: I think that traditionally betting has been what is commonly known as "fixed odds betting", whereby any two individuals who play a tennis match or two rugby sides would play against each other and obviously out of that contest there would be a winner, which is pretty much the same way horse-racing started. I had a horse, you had a horse, one would be faster than the other one, we would wager money to see whose was the fastest, so fixed odds betting in that form, has been around for a good deal of time.
With the increased television coverage of all forms of sport, obviously the interest in betting on sport has taken off over the last decade or so, and now we are in a situation where basically any sport that is televised, has a betting market. If it is a significant sporting event and there is interest in it, then there will be interest in a bookmaker, what they would say "pricing up", in other words giving odds for the two.
Where spread-betting comes into its own is making out of an event that otherwise would be a non-contest event, a betting proposition, and the best way for me to, for the Commission to explain that is to use the example of, a rugby example, if you will forgive me, I know we are in a Cricket Commission, but if the All Blacks played Japan and naturally Supersport would televise that, theoretically there would be no contest, because we all know, including all the Japanese that the All Blacks would comfortably beat Japan, so from a fixed odds betting point of view there would be very little purpose in anybody pricing up, because nobody would want to back Japan and the price on All Blacks would be so minute, that it just simply wouldn't be a betting proposition.
However, where spread-betting comes into its own is it would make a decision saying "well, we all recognise that the All Blacks will comfortably beat Japan, but if we start to ask the question how many points the All Blacks would beat Japan by, all of a sudden everybody in the room here, would have an opinion", it may well be that the market spread, in other words the bookmakers' opinion which
he would gather from previous meetings between the two sides, team selection, weather conditions, venues, all of those, he would factor those into making a statement that may be 65/70.
What that is saying is that he has set a supremacy market, in his opinion the All Blacks are superior to Japan by 65/70 points. In his own mind he is of the opinion that Japan would be beaten by the All Blacks 65/70. If you would like to look at it, the All Blacks are therefore being handicapped with a negative 70 points to their name.
Theoretically therefore they would have to win by 70 points in order to, on "handicap" actually win the game, but for the punter who would then phone up and say "how are you betting on this game, what is the spread, the supremacy spread on this rugby encounter", he has a decision to make. He will either go low at 65, in other words by going low at 65, he is of the opinion that "yes, the All Blacks will win, but they won't win by 65 points", alternatively he can be of the opinion that Taine Randall and the other 14 All Blacks have put out a particularly strong side, that the Japanese are particularly weak, that it is a home match in Auckland and that they will win by mor than 70 points, in which case he will go high at 70. The upshot of that is that obviously there is a result, and if we take an example that the All Blacks may win that game by 100 points to 0, in other words the supremacy difference is 100 points, the All Blacks have clearly beaten the Japanese by 100 points. So getting back to the two scenarios, if you have gone low at 65, you are incorrect by 35 points, you went low at 65 and the result is 100. In other words you would lose 35 points.
I am just going to pause there to say that when you have a bet in spread-betting, you have decided whether you want to go low or high, you nominate a stake. In this case the punter may have gone R10-00 a point low, of course he may well have gone R100-00 a point low, or if he is a particularly big punter, he may go R1 000-00 a point low, but it is up to him as to how much he is willing to wager per point.
So let's say for example the man who has gone low at 65, has done so at R10-00 a point, using the example that I gave of 100 points to 0, the final result, he has lost by 35 points, he has nominated a stake of R10 a point and he is therefore going to lose R350. The good news is of course for the majority of the people who would have gone high at 70, and at R100 a point say, the result again remains the same. It is 100 points, which means that if you went high at 70, you would be correct by 30 points, and if as I indicated, you went on R100 a point, you would therefore make as much as R3-thousand, 30 times R100.
The principle of spread-betting once you have that concept in your mind, you can theoretically set a spread on anything.
MS BATOHI: Just before you get onto that, is it correct that if, in your example that you have given, if the All Blacks won by 65/70, then the bookmaker would win?
MR ANDREWS: Sorry, say that again.
MS BATOHI: If the All Blacks won, the margin was within the spread, that would be that the bookmaker would win?
MR ANDREWS: That is correct. If the final result was 67/0, which it could quite conceivably be, the result would fall within the spread of the bookmaker, and obviously those that went low, would lose a minimal amount of course, because you would go low at 65 and the result is 67, so you would only lose 2 points, plus the people who went high at 70 would lose, again only minimal because they would only lose 3 points. The reason for the spread, the 65 to 70 is the bookmaker's margin. I mention that because ideally for a bookmaker and particularly for a spreadsetter, the ideal result for the business is to have 50% of your clientele going low and 50% of your clientele going high, because that way regardless of the result, you make your five point margin in this case.
In the case of cricket which is far more volatile, you may find on the total runs situation, the spread is much wider, it may be 220/230, it is not always five points.
MS BATOHI: Before you go any further, why do you say cricket is more volatile than other sports?
MR ANDREWS: Well, it stands to reason if you analyse it, compare soccer for example, we all know with the exception of when Bafana Bafana recently played America when we lost 4/0 which would rather not talk about, but generally speaking there is not much of a swing between one side unless they are particularly superior to the other, so on average your results would be 3/1, 2/0, 1/0 and you are dealing obviously with smaller numbers. To a lesser extent rugby, when it is an expansive game, you may on exception get 100 points scored in a game, but again that is the exception rather than the rule.
For example the recent European Cup between Manchester and Northampton, the final score was 9/6 which again is extremely low, but you are generally working within the parameters of something like 20 to 70 points in a game. With cricket it can be more volatile, because you are dealing in runs, and a one day international can yield in one innings anything between as little as 100 runs, which is admittedly the exception, but upwards of 250 and sometimes beyond 300. Your numbers in terms of runs, simply lend itself far more to volatile trading.
The same would go for an individual's performance. When any batsman is coming to the crease, there is the likelihood that he could go out for a duck, there is also the likelihood of course that he could go on and make a century. He could of course conceivably if he was Daryll in New Zealand make a double century, it was a double century? Those were exceptions, but generally speaking, there is an awful lot of runs as opposed to certainly in soccer, goals being scored.
Also you have in cricket, which you don't necessarily have in soccer, individual performances that you can monitor an individual's performance. It is difficult to, it is impossible to analyse and put a figure to Renaldo's performance for Brazil, but it is quite clearly easy to put a performance of Michael Atherton to England, one can see how many runs he did score.
So cricket, of all the major sports where there is trading, is by definition therefore more volatile.
MS BATOHI: Just go on, you were going to explain how spread-betting could be applied to cricket.
MR ANDREWS: Yes, and just before I do that, on a somewhat lighthearted note but at the same time explaining that once you have got it, a concept of spread-betting, you can basically apply it to anything. The British bookmaker Ladbrokes was somewhat unpopular a couple of years back when they went as far as to have a spread which they called the THUD Spread, and the ananogram for THUD being Tito's Ours Until Death and they actually had a spread set on Emperor Tito and how long - he was laying on his deathbed at the time - how long he would actually continue to live. You could phone up and have a bid, either going low on Tito's hours until death or high, but when he would kick on presumably. Obviously that was a little bit in poor taste, but I think it does bring home, hopefully it does bring home to the Commission that you could basically create a spread on anything.
I could have set a mark up this morning as to when the Commission was going to get under way, in which case I would hopefully have gone high and made a lot of money, without giving any kickback to the Judge.
So we have had an awful lot of volatility in terms of that. In terms of cricket, there are spreads that are naturally attractive to a punter. They would be primarily and as I have said, you can basically have a spread on anything, but the primary initiatives when we launched here, which were common to the rest of the world's trading, were total runs in which case there was a market on how many runs a particular side would score in their innings. That may be in a test match, the first innings or the second innings and obviously a one day international would be the innings.
That spread would be set by the bookmaking house or the individual bookmaker and would be based on previous results at that particular ground, at that particular, or on that particular pitch and obviously there are pitches around the world that are particularly renowned for being flat pitches or green pitches or whatever the case may be. So there is a history on most grounds in the world, of on average how many runs are likely to be scored on day one of a test match. The same would go for any one day internationals. So based on previous events, previous experience, coupled with the team selection, and weather conditions, then the bookmaker would come up with a, what in his own mind, was a suitable spread for a first innings total or an innings total.
Of course I do remind you that it is not an exact science, quite the opposite. However accurate a bookmaker or a spread-setting may think his spread is, if the batting side happens to be 10/3 after five overs, obviously he will be forced to change his opinion and alternate his spread, which leads me onto a very important statement and that is that there is and has been betting in running.
What that allows for is two things, first of all that once you have your bets, obviously as a punter, you are going to watch the way the game is unfolding. What spread-betting in running allows you to do is if you have made the correct decision, let's say for example England are playing in a one day international at Headingley, and the spread is 230/240 runs that they are going to score in their innings, and they start off, you phone up and you believe it is a particularly poor English squad again, then you would want to go low at 230. If after the first ten overs, England are 50 without loss, in other words it is a particularly good start, you would phone your bookmaker and you could say to him "what is the spread now", what the bookmaker does is after every delivery and after every over and after every fall of a wicket, should there be a fall of wicket, he will adjust his spread so that at any one time during a cricket game, you will phone and the spread as I pointed out, was 230/240, but England are not 50 without loss, in which case the bookmaker is now far more optimistic about a high English score than possibly 230/240, in which case you may find that the spread is now 265/270, or 265/275.
What that gives you an opportunity to do, is actually sell out your bets, close out your bet at that particular time, and of course you would have the opportunity to do so when he quotes you that price. That is not to say that you would have to, you may in your own mind think that that start would mean that England would go on and get 300 runs, in which case you wouldn't want to close your bet. But you could at that time close your bet out at a profit.
The flipside of that of course is that if you went low at 230 and England are 50 without loss, you are probably particularly worried because it is looking increasingly likely that they would get more than 230 runs. What spread-betting in running allows is the facility for you to again phone up, close out your bet at a loss, but presumably at a loss that you would rather take at that stage, than hang in till the grim end and pay a considerable amount more, because they may be heading up towards 300.
So betting in running goes on all the time, and particularly again in cricket, we are dealing with a volatile market where three or four wickets may go down quickly, in which case the whole nature of the game changes rather dramatically. From a punting point of view, spread-betting and running facilitates you to either close out your bet for the profits or cut your losses.
Betting in running is run on all the different markets, I have spoken first of all about the total runs, but there are individual performances. Every batsman, when walking to the wicket, even if it is a tailender, even if it is Andrew Caddick or somebody who is not expected to get amongst the runs,would have a spread to his name, from the opening batsman to the last batsman coming in.
Obviously the spread that is set there, again takes into account the individual's performance in recent weeks or recent times, it would take his history against that particular test-playing nation or that particular one day international squad, it would take into account what kind of bowling attack he is going to be facing, and it would take into account the track conditions and the nature of the game.
Obviously somebody coming to the wicket when the score is 10/5, is likely to be a good deal more conservative than he would be if he was coming in and the score was 302/5 or something of that nature. So individual performances and runs spreads are extremely popular for punters.
The other markets, and there are numerous other markets I could talk about, but the other one which is of interest is that there is always a market on the amount of runs that would be scored in the first 15 overs. The reason for that is obviously the first 15 overs within cricket, within a one day international, are particular interesting because of the fielding limitations and also because a lot of the sides are looking to maximise those 15 overs and to be in a position to bat aggressively, and of course a couple of years ago, there was the much renowned pinch-hitter role which would obviously mean that you would look for, in South Africa's instance, a Lance Klusener or a Mr Derek Crookes or somebody to come in and get on with the run rate. So there was a market in the first 15 overs. If the spread was 57/62, you would obviously take the opinion if we opened with, let's say we opened with Andrew Hall and Lance Klusener, that would certainly be considered by many to be an aggressive stance. If one opened with Jeffrey Boycott or somebody who is considered less volatile or not so much a stroke player, you would lean low on the first 15 and not expect an awful lot of boundaries.
All of those markets are traded. Those are the three most popular markets I would say. There are exceptions, but generally those are the recognised, popular markets.
MS BATOHI: Mr Andrews, this might seem like an obvious question, but if a punter or a bookmaker knew in advance that X, either team or an individual player was going to make X amount of runs, how would that effect either the bookmaker or the punter?
MR ANDREWS: Well, let's deal with the bookmaker first of all. If the bookmaker were to know that a, do you want to deal with individual performances?
MS BATOHI: That is fine, you can deal with that first.
MR ANDREWS: Let's take an individual performance. Let's take it off shore, if Michael Atherton happened to, poor old Michael, but if he had to phone a bookmaker and say to him "there is no way that I am going to score runs today, despite the fact that I have just set a century against Zimbabwe, but I am not going to make any runs today", I am sure that wouldn't happen, but if it were to happen, the bookmaker obviously in the knowledge of that, would, I would imagine, look for most of his punters to go high on Michael Atherton. Just to explain the language again, that would mean that they would be wanting to bet that Michael Atherton who after all has just scored a century, would get amongst the runs again today. In order for a bookmaker to push a punter into playing high, he would obviously, I would think, look to put the spread in such a manner that when you phoned up and said "what is the spread on Michael Atherton today" and he quoted you 18/20, you would think "that is very low, I am likely to think that Michael Atherton would score a lot more than 20 runs today".
From a punter's point of view, which I think is probably the more obvious, if as a punter, you happen to know that Michael Atherton wasn't going to score runs today, you would phone your bookmaker and regardless of the quote, even if it was low, you would want to go low, even if it seemed to you as if though there wasn't much value in going low, obviously you would be save in the knowledge that he wasn't going to get any runs. So regardless of how low the spread was, you would be quite adamant because you had an inside track that Michael wasn't going to get any runs, so you would go low.
And obviously you would get as much money as possible in terms of a stake. If you knew that a cricketer was going to go low, it would be a bit silly just going R5 a run low, you would want to go as much as possible, R1000 a run low, maybe even R10-thousand a run low. Obviously at the same time, not making it particularly obvious to the bookmaker that you were aware of the result prior to the contest. But in theory and I remind you that that is theory, that is what probably would happen.
MS BATOHI: And obviously the same would apply to the total scored, the same principles would apply?
MR ANDREWS: Yes. If you were told, theoretically if you were told that England wouldn't make more than 200 runs, that would be an enormous advantage for you. Of course the truth of the matter in that is that because it is a team game, to be hundred percent sure that a side is not going to get 200 runs or more, one would believe that all 11 players would have to be in on it. I say that because otherwise 10 of your players may go out for ducks and the 11th one, who is unaware of what he should be doing, goes out and scores a double century.
So, it is an enormously difficult thing to control, I would think, total runs, unless you had the cooperation of all concerned.
COMMISSIONER: Presumably four or five of your leading batsmen wouldn't be a raising certainty, but it would be an indicator, wouldn't it?
MR ANDREWS: No. It would certainly be an advantage and of course based on the fact that you are doing betting in running, that if your first five batsmen in, happened to put up particularly poor performances, getting back to the fact that we are betting in running, if it is 40/5 and you phoned your bookmaker, the spread would have come down to such an extent that you would be able to sell out with a handsome profit and regardless of whether the tail wags or it doesn't, you would have made your profit, yes.
MS BATOHI: Just one other thing, Mr Andrews, in this sort of betting, spread-betting, is it correct that you don't need to back a winning side? Can you just explain that concept?
MR ANDREWS: Well, yes, individually speaking, one bad performance or for that matter, two or three bad performances within a cricket side, does not mean to say that that cricket side cannot go on and win and vice versa, I may point out Michael Atherton scoring a century certainly would help his side in the right direction, but if his bowling side didn't do the job and bowled particularly poorly, his century may well be nullified by two or three others from the other side, in which case, regardless of how good his individual performances was, the team as a unit was not successful.
The flipside of that of course is that if two players go out for ducks, maybe even three players go out for ducks within a cricket team, it does not by definition mean that they cannot go on and win that game. Invariably the fact that they have gone out for ducks, would mean that there is something in the pitch and although their total may only be 120, 130 runs, the opposing side would still have to go out, bat them and get them and they of course, themselves could put up a worse performance which would negate the poor performances of the other individuals. There are individual performances that do contribute to the greater performance, but the nature of the game is such that if you as an individual have a poor game, you have 10 other batsmen around you, who are there to get runs, certainly three or four of them are expected to get runs.
MS BATOHI: Mr Andrews, just applying what you have said to the last test between South Africa and England at Centurion Park, do you remember that?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MS BATOHI: On the last day of that test, it was apparent that that game was heading for a draw.
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MS BATOHI: Can you explain to this inquiry how the betting would have been affected that morning and in the course of that day?
MR ANDREWS: Yes. Let me just point out that we have been up until now talking about spread-betting. In the scenario that you are talking about, there specifically you are talking fixed odds and maybe it is worth my while, or your while, just to bear me out when I explain fixed odds in cricket.
In a soccer game, there are conceivably three results. Manchester United may win, and normally do, Manchester United may draw, Arsenal may win. There are only three results likely. In a one day international, or a one day game, there are also three results, but the draw is highly unlikely and off the top of my head, I think bookmakers generally quote 16/1 the draw, in a one day game, because it happens very seldom that it is actually a draw.
So realistically when you are looking to bet in a one day game, you are looking for either side A or side B to win, and highly unlikely that it is going to be a draw. Test match cricket on the other hand, there is every chance of a draw, particularly if you are playing in Nottingham at this time of the year, because the weather conditions obviously come into play and when a bookmaker prices up on a test match, again they would go into the stat books and they would say "this is the amount of rain that Lords get at this time of the year or in the past they haven't been results on this particular wicket", so they would have done their homework from a statistical point of view, and they would have a quote as to the likelihood of a draw and they would obviously have a quote as to the likelihood of one side beating the other side. So you are back to a situation in test match cricket where there is every chance of a draw, and in some instances, the draw is the favourite.
To get back to your particular test match you are talking about, certainly because of the rain interrupted nature of that particular test match, most punters and most bookmakers were of the opinion that the test match appeared to be a draw, and were certainly heading in that way and had every reason to be a draw. The decisions that were made by the two captains to make a "game of it" and to get a result out of the test match, would have without a shadow of a doubt, made the betting on that particular game from a fixed odds perspective, topsy-turvy. Until such time as that decision was made, the overwhelming likelihood was a draw, and in fact, the bookmakers actually closed betting at that stage, on that test match, because it had fizzled out or appeared to be fizzling out or was a draw. Obviously with the decisions that were made, a game and a result was back on the cards.
Literally overnight, the betting on the outcome of that test would have changed dramatically from what was a certain draw, to a result match which would either have been England or South Africa. But certainly there would have been an enormous amount of money on a draw, with the manner in which the game had panned out at that time.
MS BATOHI: If in fact there was a draw, it is correct that the bookmakers would have lost basically?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, I am not privy to their books, but I would think that they would have had a lot of money on the draw, yes.
MS BATOHI: If for example somebody, either a punter or a bookmaker, knew that there was a game on, how would that have affected either?
MR ANDREWS: Well, it is a difficult thing to try and reflect, if I had been a bookmaker and I had known that there was going to be a result to the contest, obviously if somebody was phoning all the time to have a bet on the draw, I would have been quite happy to have laid that bet, knowing that there was every likelihood, in fact that there wasn't going to be a draw. But other than that, I think that in that particular scenario if you were a bookmaker, you would be positioning your book to accommodate a result, that is the best really I could say.
It doesn't of course, just because a bookmaker is a bookmaker, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't punt themselves, they might well be taking a bet with another bookmaker, who has a different opinion to the outcome of a contest, and they are more than entitled to do that, and on occasions, would do that.
So, while he may not change his own prices, he certainly would be shopping around to back England or South Africa.
COMMISSIONER: He would be laying off in other words in order to balance his book a little bit?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MS BATOHI: Thank you Mr Andrews, is there anything further that you would like to add at this stage, just to give the Commission a full understanding of this concept?
MR ANDREWS: No, I think that is me done, to be honest.
MS BATOHI: I have no further questions, Mr COMMISSIONER.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MS BATOHI
COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Mr Andrews, before I invite Counsel to question you further, it has cropped up in the course of your evidence which has been very interesting, but specifically there is a simplified form of spread-betting called line betting. I wonder if you couldn't just give us a little bit of information as to how, what sort, what is the field of operation? Is it on a particular batsman scoring more or less than a particular number of runs, can you expand on that a little?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, I think at the end of the day from a spread-betting point of view, the markets demand two things. It would have to be a popular market and for example, I know that I was quite keen to look at introducing certain markets, not quite to the extent that the THUD market was introduced, but if you had a matter of interest in a wide range of events, then you could basically make spreads on anything, the Oscars for example. If there was a particularly dominant movie, such as Titanic, we would all have an opinion and an interest, because the majority of us went to see the movie and you would want to know if Titanic was going to sweep a lot of Oscars or a minimum amount of Oscars, so you would set a spread 6/7 Oscars and go high or low, based on that.
Once the concept of going high and low has been engendered into the punting public, then you are pretty much free to set a market on anything. Having said that, I am talking specifically here in South Africa when I say that we are in very much a fledgling sports betting market and as I mentioned earlier, 1998 was really the commencement of it. The IGN Sportsbook saw it fit, or saw the need to educate what is traditionally a fixed odds betting market that has come out of horse-racing and to be very honest, is not that au fait with sports betting, nevermind spread-betting.
Three years down the line, or two and a half years down the line, we are still very much operating with a niche market here in South Africa. I stress though that it is an enormous business internationally and as you have probably read and the interest that has been forthcoming from the sub-continent, and the likes of the British bookmakers, that internationally, offshore it is a considerably bigger business, with a lot more interest than here in South Africa.
I mention that again because the markets that were traded and offered here in South Africa, are somewhat more limited than those which you would have opportunity to bet on internationally, and the reason for that is that for the bookmaker, it is no good if he sets a betting market and everybody, every punter that phones, goes the same way because that just exposes him to either a very big win or a very big loss.
His business is to balance his books as you pointed out earlier on. So, what is interesting is when you are here in South Africa, and you are doing a rugby test match, the Springboks are despite the fact that they may be in poor form, and despite the fact that they may be playing a side that could beat them, the Wallabies or the All Blacks, you would think that the majority of people, the majority of punting public that phone, would be keen to back the Springboks. That is just the nature of it, because at the end of the day, the heart often rules the head in, particularly if you are a punter who is not a serious punter.
I mention that because what the spreadsetter would therefore do is he would make his judgement based on previous form, based on recent form, statistics and so forth and the chosen side, that South Africa were let's say favourites to beat Australia. However, because of that and because of the fact that he knows that the majority of people who phone him, are going to want to back the Springboks, he would adjust his spread downwards or upwards in this case, and actually push South Africa up, so in a normal situation where a South African bookmaker would have South Africa to win, or he would believe them to win by 4 to 7 points, he may well quote South Africa to win by 7 to 11 points, because he knows that the majority of people phoning are Springbok supporters and they are obviously looking for the Springboks to win. He doesn't want to be in a situation where every single person who phones, goes high on the Springboks, that doesn't help him.
So he is having to balance his books accordingly. What is interesting is of course, as you would imagine, if we all were Australian, heaven forbid, but if we were, the Australian betting bookmaker, has the other thing happening. Everybody who is phoning him, is wanting to back the Wallabies, so whereas he may have South Africa in his own mind again as 5/7 favourites, he makes them 3/5 favourites. His logic obviously being that the majority of people phoning him are Australians and Wallaby fans, and they are going to be looking for Australia to win, which of course from an international point of view, opens the doors for some arbitrage in terms of that you could trade off with an international bookmaker at a profit, even before your game began.
Of course those opportunities are few and far between, but basically bias does enter into it and at the end of the day, the bookmaker would want to be, the spreadsetter would want to find himself in a position where whatever the result, he is going to win, because his margin is such that he has secured that and 50% of his clientele or close to it, have gone high and 50% of the clientele has gone low.
COMMISSIONER: MR DICKERSON, would you like to question Mr Andrews?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DICKERSON: Mr Andrews, in the system of spread-betting which you have described, one of the factors which you indicated plays an important role, both from the bookmaker's perspective and from the punter's perspective, is the factoring-in of a range of data in order to arrive at an assessment of what the likely result is going to be?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MR DICKERSON: It seems obvious from that that there is an interest and hence a market for information? I am afraid the microphone doesn't pick up your nods, if you could say yes or no.
MR ANDREWS: Yes, that is quite right.
MR DICKERSON: And that sort of information can be gleaned from a variety of sources, television programmes, interviews which take place in the public media, correct?
MR ANDREWS: Quite right.
MR DICKERSON: And very often players, administrators, officials themselves are approached by the media, by members of the public for comments and assessments on things such as playing conditions, weather and the like?
MR ANDREWS: Correct.
MR DICKERSON: Nothing untoward about seeking information or getting it, it is the use to which information may be put, would you agree with that?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MR DICKERSON: How would you describe the distinction between forecasting and betting?
MR ANDREWS: I would describe it as a significant distinction and one that needs to be noted, and I am glad you brought it up. The advantage from a forecasting point of view, is significant however, but you are right in saying that certainly with the modern coverage of cricket, pitch reports are done live, they are not off tape the majority of the time, and that information is free-to-air, free-to-market.
However of course, invariably a bookmaker is seeking to set his spread as early as possible, he would want to do that, the earlier his spread comes through obviously he's got an advantage over other bookmakers, because his spread is out first, and as a result, he would be seeking some line of information, which of course he wouldn't just take on face value, it would be in his own mind, he would already have some kind of figure, based on the statistics that have previously come to passed between either those two countries or at that particular venue.
But once that job is done, forecasting as you have called it, the business of betting begins thereafter. Once the first ball has been bowled, the job of forecasting is history in so much as that forecast is either going to prove to be accurate in the long run, or inaccurate.
MR DICKERSON: In essence if I understand you, betting invariably involves a process of forecasting as a preliminary step, but forecasting doesn't necessarily amount to or lead to betting?
MR ANDREWS: Quite right, yes. In fact, just to explain that to you, of course, with any live coverage these days, it is not uncommon for the broadcaster to have a studio guest and the studio guest's role to all intents and purposes is one of forecasting. As you quite rightly said, he may forecast his information. The prime example I can think of is of course Supersport entertains Naas Botha as a guest, and Naas would prior to the Curry Cup final or prior to the Super 12 game or whatever the case may be, give his opinions of how he sees the game panning out. But that in no way would indicate that he or that information, would be translated into a bet of any sort. Having said that of course, there may be a member of the public or a bookmaker who happens to think that that knowledge is significant and may listen to that or take that into account when setting his spread, but the two are not mutually, or I should say they are mutually exclusive.
MR DICKERSON: And it may be that a forecast by a particular individual or an opinion by a particular individual as to some facet of cricket, for example the state of the pitch, in its own right, is treated as being valuable or important, because the player presumably knows more and has greater insight than other people?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
MR DICKERSON: Would you agree with that?
MR ANDREWS: I would agree with that. Of course I would think that over a period of time, an individual's knowledge would either prove to be useful or prove to be poor, in other words over a period of time, one would, if one got repeated information from an individual, it wouldn't be too long before it was apparent whether the individual in question knew what he was talking about or didn't.
In other words if he happened to be a particularly poor judge of a cricket pitch, it wouldn't take too long for that to out. If he repeatedly said that "this pitch looks like it is a 220 wicket" and he said that five times and on each occasion, his side was bowled out for 100, it will be quite apparent that the bookmaker would look elsewhere for some kind of forecast.
COMMISSIONER: Perhaps on the presupposition that it is a genuine forecast?
MR ANDREWS: Correct.
MR DICKERSON: Perhaps before I move on to another aspect, I understand you were introduced to the Commission's Investigators by Mr Green, is that correct?
MR ANDREWS: Initially I was approached by Supersport, because Mr Green I believe, had said that they were looking for somebody who understood spreadbetting and the Commission, the first step for the Commission was to understand what parameters we were dealing with, and particularly the terminology which you may well or may not hear later on, words like "high", "low", "spread", "line" and so forth.
So yes, initially and for the last two weeks, I had been working through Shamila.
MR DICKERSON: Who is Mr Green, for the record?
MR ANDREWS: Must I ...
COMMISSIONER: If you are going off to something else, we will reconvene at two o'clock. If it is of any significance, the idea that somebody with the expertise that Mr Andrews has, came originally from me. I felt it was important that we should have such evidence. We will reconvene at two o'clock.
COMMISSION ADJOURNS UNTIL TWO O'CLOCK
ON RESUMPTION AT 14H04
NEILL ANDREWS: (s.u.o.)
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DICKERSON: (cont)
Thank you, Mr COMMISSIONER. Mr Andrews, I think there were two factors which emerged from what you said before lunch, I'd just like to revisit them to obtain clarity. The first was that for purposes of forecasting, whether it's with the ultimate aim of spread betting, or simply forecasting, information itself is important and in the context of betting people would be prepared to pay for information.
MR ANDREWS: Correct.
MR DICKERSON: The second point is that authoritative opinions in the same context of forecasting, are also valuable and people would be prepared to pay for those.
MR ANDREWS: Correct.
MR DICKERSON: Turning to the last test against England at Centurion Park, you explained certain betting scenarios with reference to that test. Firstly, I take it you're aware that in county cricket, for example, a situation frequently arises as happened at Centurion Park, that a result is brought about by early declarations on exactly the same basis.
MR ANDREWS: Yes, and in fact of course it happened over the weekend with Zimbabwe.
MR DICKERSON: And in order to bring about a result in a test such as that, or a game such as that which is destined for a draw, one requires the cooperation and agreement of both teams.
MR ANDREWS: Correct.
MR DICKERSON: And lastly, given all the scenarios and examples which you've given to describe spread betting in the context of cricket, the secure way for a bookmaker to ensure that he won, would be to buy a particular player who would then be able to determine his own performance, going out for a duck, for example.
MR ANDREWS: That would be the easiest and safest way, yes.
MR DICKERSON: I have no further questions, Mr COMMISSIONER.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR DICKERSON
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR GISHEN: Mr Andrews, are you the sole betting organisation for spread betting in South Africa?
MR ANDREWS: Well actually we're not anymore, Superbet was closed - I'm open to correction, but possibly nine months ago now. There are to the best of my knowledge, two functioning industries that - or not industries, two functioning entities that continue today, one's called National Sporting Index, which is a Johannesburg based sports bidding company, and the other one is Atlantic Sportsbet, which are based here in Cape Town and represents The Management buy-out of what was Superbet, which was a division of M-Net, for want of a better word, or Nethold.
MR GISHEN: There are other organisations all over the world, are there not, that deal with similar ...(indistinct) establishment bookmakers all over the world?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, spread betting is all over the world and you don't need a specific spread betting licence, as long as you've got a bookmaking licence you can effectively have spread betting. Those are the legal ones that are recognised, but for every legal one there are rumoured underground "illegal" betting operations, particularly rumoured on the subcontinent and the Far East. How much those are documented and what is known of them, obviously is a difficult thing to monitor, but certainly there is still, I think by most people recognised as a - if you'd like to call it, an underworld of sports betting, most of which is rumoured to be on the subcontinent.
MR GISHEN: I would take it it's common cause is it not, for bookmakers to lay off their bets with other organisations?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, if you're in a position of strength or a position of weakness, one would probably want to do that. The same way as when a punter has the facility with betting and running, to sell out at a loss or to sell out and grab his profits and he's sure that he does have a profit before the game changes, a bookmaker would probably be in the position to try and facilitate a profit for himself and his company if he could. So if he found himself with a negative book on any one particular game, maybe a South African victory or an Australian victory would put him in a position where he would lose a considerable amount of money, he would as you quite rightly ... offset some of that damage by backing that side to cover his loss. If he felt he was overexposed. Of course if he would happen to be in a position where he felt for whatever reason, that he wasn't overexposed, although maybe his book suggested that, then he would probably bite the bullet.
MR GISHEN: Would any of the - let's assume that it was any international match, no matter what it was, I take it overseas bookmakers may contact you and wish to place money, or lay off their bets with your company?
MR ANDREWS: I don't think so, because the volumes here in South Africa as I pointed out two things, first of all that in terms of the spreads offered we were - and I think sports betting and spread betting in South Africa still is a fledgling product internationaly,and obviously because of the rand value, that I don't think you'd get too much of that happening. That the majority of business in laying off, would be between dollar or pound based bookmaking industries. I think that I may be open to correction on this, not having obviously being privy to the books of Superbet or NSI or any other ones that are South African based, but it would be an extreme surprise to me it there was a huge amount of laying off with South African bookmakers, even if they are games involving the Proteas or the Springboks or a South African based side. Purely because of the rand value.
MR GISHEN: By and large from the evidence that you've given, the way I understand it, it is that you make up your own minds on your own information as to how you're going to do the spread betting.
MR ANDREWS: You're asking me as a punter or as a spread-better? As a punter, basically when you make a bet as a punter you have an opinion and you are effectively exercising your opinion against that of whoever has set the spread. If for example, I happen to as an individual punter, be of the opinion that the total runs are likely to be scored on any one day was 220, if that was what I had in my mind and I phoned my bookmaker and said "What is the spread today?", and he said "215 to 225", the likely result is that I'll put down the phone and say "I'm not going to have a bet", because I believe that the person or the individual or the company that accept the spread, is accurate and that there therefore isn't any value to be had. However, if I thought it would be 220 runs and I phoned up and I was quoted a price or a spread of 260 to 270, I would naturally enough have a bet and I would go low, backing my judgement that I'm right and the spread better is wrong. But as I've pointed out, it is not an exact science, either for the spread better or for the punter. I think that sort of answers the question as far as a punter is concerned, but the same goes for a spread better, or someone who sets the spread. At the end of the day, unless he is getting any additional information - and as I've already pointed out, it's not a fait accompli that that information is going to be accurate, but he will base his initial market that he sets, on the knowledge that he has gleamed either from an individual whose judgement he may back, or additional statistics that he has got over a period of time, and that's quite a science. Ladbrokes for example, will have a whole record of Headingley tests played in July over a period of a hundred years and what that pitch is normally good for, and obviously they will factor into that the two test playing nations and their history, but generally speaking it's - without being a science, it's certainly isn't just a thumb suck.
MR GISHEN: Is there any limit to the amount of bettings that can be done?
MR ANDREWS: No, technically not, most of these betting companies will have clients who bet on credit, certain punters, higher rollers will have obviously bigger credit than others and over a period of time they will have established credibility that they are good for whatever amount. But no, I mean one of the biggest sports bets - I remember in 1991, there was an individual who had 120 000-pounds on Boris Becker to win Wimbeldon, that's an individual punter, that's a fixed dogs bet of course. That was not logged back by Ladbrokes or was held by Ladbrokes, or whatever the case may be. So certain individuals are naturally bigger than other individuals, but unless it's established between the two parties that there is a limit to the amount that is bet, that there is no limits.
I should point out though that on - to the best of my knowledge, every spread bet there is what is called a "stop-loss". Now a stop-loss will come into effect when a result is particularly unusual, if I can call it that. In the terms of a rugby total points market for example, there is a stop-loss on either side of the spread, of 40 points, which is to say that it's there to protect not only the punter, but also the spread betting organisation. So if the market - getting back to our, which I used before lunch, of Japan vs the All Blacks, the initial spread there is 65/70, if the All Blacks happen to win, which they're unlikely to, but if they did win 200 points to 0, the stop-loss would have kicked in at 40 on either side. So prior to a bet being struck, that knowledge that there is a stop-loss in place for both the punter and/or the spread better on either side of the spread, is normally published in the rules book or whatever. That's in rugby. In terms of cricket the recognised stop-loss is normally 150 runs on either side. And there you see, getting back to the point that I made earlier, that cricket is a lot more volatile because in rugby you're dealing with a 40 stop-loss, in soccer it's a 5 stop-loss for goals. So if there's 7/0 or something like that, the stop-loss would come into play, but very seldom it comes into play. With cricket, in runs it's normally about 150 runs. So if you went high at 300 and your side was bowled out for 20, you wouldn't have to pay 280 X your stake, you would pay 150 X your stake 'cause the stop-loss has kicked in.
MR GISHEN: I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR GISHEN
COMMISSIONER: Mr Fitzgerald?
MR FITZGERALD: I have no questions.
NO QUESTIONS BY MR FITZGERALD
MR GAUNTLETT: Mr Chairman, Mr Manca will be asking the questions.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MANCA: Mr Andrews, do you have any knowledge of the betting industry legal or otherwise, on the Indian subcontinent?
MR ANDREWS: Not firsthand knowledge no, only to surmise - well not surmise, but only to say that my experience of it would be not firsthand, and that from what I have heard it is, as I pointed out, a lot more intricate and not all of it is "legal", but the principles of course of spread betting remain the same.
MR MANCA: If you explained to the Commission the three most popular bets on cricket in South Africa, being based on individual performance, runs in 15 overs and a possible supremacy bet about the total in an innings, is it correct or do you have knowledge whether or not in India they have what might termed more exotic type of bets?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, I think that they do. Again I would not have firsthand knowledge of that, so it's very much hearsay or what amongst spread betting operatives is what we believe common knowledge, but from a South African perspective those markets at this stage are not going to be bought into play, for the simple reason that there's not enough volume of interest and you could end up having only three people phoning and they're all going the same way. So from a South African perspective, and indeed a British perspective, you've got to be sure that when you set a spread, that there is going to be - or a spread market, that there is going to be a significant interest in that in order to get volumes going either way of the market in order so that you can balance your book and have, hopefully, a no loss situation.
MR MANCA: Based on the knowledge that you do have, do you know whether you are able in India, to place a bet on for example, who will open the bowling?
MR ANDREWS: From a hearsay perspective, I've heard that that is the case. That of course would be a fixed odds bet, it would not be a spread bet, in which case it would be the same way that in Euro 2000 coming up now, there is a fixed odds betting market on who will be the first goal scorer in the championships, or a market on who will be the leading goal scorer in the Euro 2000 championships. In the same way that you may have therefore a market which is a fixed odds market, on who would open the betting, but your limitations there are fairly restricted, bearing in mind that in any one cricket side there's probably only a maximum of six likely bowlers and it's unlikely that obviously, getting back to the English example, that Michael Atherton's going to open the bowling. So there would be possibly four maybe five options, which again limits the market for a bookmaker. I'm not saying that those kinds or markets aren't offered, but they're not as volatile as a spread betting market.
MR MANCA: But you do confirm that such a fixed odds bet is available in India?
MR ANDREWS: I can't confirm that, that there would be. I would be surprised if there wasn't, but I certainly can't confirm it.
MR MANCA: The individual performance bet, it goes without saying that, as you answered in a question to MR DICKERSON, that a player could be bought by a bookmaker and that purchase of the player as it were, would make the bookmaker a lot of money. Could do.
MR ANDREWS: I think MR DICKERSON actually said that, I didn't say that, but yes, there's no reason why that couldn't happen. That of course could technically happen in other forms of individual sport pursuit, whether that be tennis or anywhere else where an individuals performance is solely controlled by him. It's difficult obviously in rugby, unless you're talking about fly-half's penalty kicking performance, for an individual to effect his own personal performance. There's unlikely to be a market on that. But I think the Commission would agree that of all the major sports cricket is the one sport where an individual's performance is better highlighted and more easily monitored.
MR MANCA: The individual could also make money by betting on himself?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, absolutely, there's no reason to suggest that an individual wouldn't want to back himself to do well. I suppose in the light of the fact that it is a competitive game and that it would be easier to put in a poor performance than to ensure that you're going to put in a good performance, because as keen as you may be to get a lot of runs, of course you're not in total control of getting a yorker or something that's going to take your middle stump out of the ground. Whereas to effect a poor performance would naturally be easier, but in principle there's no reason to suggest that a cricketer couldn't back himself to do well, particularly if he's coming off a very bad piece of form and hoping to get runs.
COMMISSIONER: If I could just interpose. Of course a cricketer could back against himself as well, or against his side. Or back himself to do badly.
MR ANDREWS: Ja, he could back himself to do well or he could back himself to do badly, ja.
MR MANCA: You've mentioned the betting organisation known as Ladbrokes, is that one of the largest English sports betting organisations? Is that correct?
MR ANDREWS: That is correct. As I understand it, Ladbrokes some time ago, probably within the last year actually terminated their own spread betting operation, which is quite interesting if you look at world phenomenon, because as I mentioned earlier on Superbet are no longer actively involved, there was a management buy-out as I pointed out. But Ladbrokes themselves, I think it was Ladbrokes, I'm open to correction, maybe William Hill, but it was one of those two bigger operations that had spent a lot of money in opening a spread betting division, has subsequently closed their spread betting division and the announcement to that effect was that they were unhappy with the margins and the business that they were getting out of spread betting. They've gone back to their traditional fixed odds betting markets, which after all are the traditional betting markets in the UK. I'm not too sure whether it's Ladbrokes or William Hill, but it's one of the bigger ones.
MR MANCA: Do you know whether there were any regulations in for example, the United Kingdom, which could assist in lessening the chances of abuse in spread betting?
MR ANDREWS: Spread betting in the UK is very strictly monitored and off the top of my head I can't think of the authority, but I can certainly guide you in the right direction. That the spread betting businesses which are headed by City Index and Sporting Index, have to answer to the same organisations that monitor the stock exchange and the reason for that is that, I think it's Futures and Indices, the Commission or the company or the authority that monitor the stock exchange, also monitor those spread betting companies. And the reason for that is that the government, the British government saw fit to put it into that particular area of authority, or monitoring, because spread betting is perceived to be in some ways very similar to the stock exchange market whereas you are buying "a share" at a particular price. Let's take Michael Atherton for example, his spread may be 35 to 40, you are buying at 35, based on the market moves, which in the cricket game is obviously how well he is batting, if he's going along particularly well and has smashed four fours through the covers and he's 18 not out and doesn't look like he's in trouble, then in the same way that a company is showing good signs, he is showing good signs and his "share price", or his spread betting price is increasing all the time. So to get back to the betting and running, if you would phone and he's 18 not out, he may have started off at 35 to 38 or 35 to 40, there's every chance that they will quote you 56 to 60. In other words, his share value, to use a stock exchange quote, has gone up and you could sell your interest in Michael Atherton at that time, at an increased or a better value. Of course you've run the risk of him going out the very next ball if you don't do that, but they saw fit to monitor spread betting through that channel.
MR MANCA: Thank you, Mr Andrews. I wonder if you would be so kind as to give the details of that regulatory authority to the Secretary of the Commission. I have no further questions, thanks.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MANCA
COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr Manca. Ms Batohi.
RE-EXAMINATION BY MS BATOHI: I just have one question, Mr COMMISSIONER.
You mentioned the volume of interest in betting in cricket on the subcontinent and you said you didn't have any firsthand knowledge of that, but it's just what is known in the game, so to speak. As far as you know, what is the volume of interest in betting in cricket on the subcontinent?
MR ANDREWS: I think - I wouldn't like to put a figure to it, and I think that the Commission is at risk of having huge amounts of numbers bandied about. It would be my humble suggestion that maybe somebody from an official capacity makes some official enquiries into getting some official figures. Of course one would have bear that any figures that were received would be turnovers that were based on legal gambling. As we know, there are rumours and stories about a lot of betting that is not monitored, and the reason for that obviously is that the bookmaker and the punter then doesn't have to pay tax to the government. But I see that this could be a problem, that some reporter may tell you it's $63-billion and somebody else may tell you it's $5-billion, and I could give you a figure somewhere in-between of that. But I think that for the purposes of the Commission, to try and get some official documentation from a government on the subcontinent as to how big their business is, or what they believe it to be, would probably be the right route to go.
MS BATOHI: Without putting an amount or any figures, is it a very large industry or is it relative to the South African industry? What would your comment be on that?
MR ANDREWS: Oh yes, no, I would think that the two are incomparable in terms of the amount of money we in South Africa would trade on sports and spread betting, as opposed to the international markets, particularly those in the subcontinent. The reason for that is that apart from us being as I mentioned, a fledgling industry, it's strikes me as though the natural South African is not a gambler, or possibly not to the extent of the Australian market and in particular the Indian market. Plus of course, if you just look at population volumes, or volumes of population, they do have a significant advantage in terms of purely numbers of people who possibly could bet, as opposed to South Africa, who in comparative terms, we're a smaller population and it would appear, less keen to bet.
MS BATOHI: Thank you, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MS BATOHI
COMMISSIONER: Mr Andrews, you dealt in your evidence with, amongst other subjects, this question of bookmakers making payments of money for "information". Now I'd like just shortly to analyse that a little with you, and if you feel that I'm traversing territory in which you don't have the necessary knowledge or expertise, then you must tell me.
MR ANDREWS: If I can just butt in there and say, obviously from my point of view I certainly have no firsthand knowledge of that ...(intervention)
COMMISSIONER: No, I'm talking about individual instances, but of the practice.
MR ANDREWS: Yes. Just in principle it would make sense for a bookmaker to get a forecast.
COMMISSIONER: Right. Well now it would also, I imagine, make sense from the bookmaker's point of view, not to pay for something that he could get for nothing.
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
COMMISSIONER: Well now the statistics for instance, those are available to anybody who is interested enough, services like Crick.Info, if you want to go further back in history you can get Wisdom. So would I be right in saying that that sort of information is not the sort of information that a bookie would probably pay for?
MR ANDREWS: No, although it can be a lot of legwork, it can be a lot of legwork in terms of gathering that information. What you will find, and to explain it I best use an American example, there's a - you've probably heard of a chap by the name of Jimmy the Greek, who over a period of time in America was considered the authority, the man who would set the line. In recent times he's been taken over by a gentleman we met when we went on our explorations to the sports books in Las Vegas, a chap by the name of Roxy Rocksborough(?). Now when it comes to ...(intervention)
COMMISSIONER: Does he also agree?
MR ANDREWS: No, I think he's bought Grease though since. Just the movie though. Where was I? Yes, Roxy Rocksborough. Roxy Rocksborough basically is a ruling authority, or believed to be a ruling authority on when the Nix happened to be playing, in other words he has in his - he's got a team of seven "professionals" who work for him, who have all that statistical data, he would then, and does, sell his information and his "line", or as we would call it a spread, to other bookmaking interests across America, and presumably offshore as well, so that when the New York Jets are playing or whatever the case may be, he's got a morning line, as he calls it, and he will put that out every morning. It may be +8. In other words, he is saying that that particular basketball side will beat the other basketball side by 8 baskets. He is considered to be the authority on that and nobody seems to argue. Obviously at times he's right, other times he's wrong, but his art again is not so much to read the game, as to read the market. So he must figure out that his spread is designed to send half of the American punting population to go against the New York Nix and half of the punting population to go with the New York Nix. That's really his art. So to get back to our situation, with Ladbrokes, when here in South Africa we are televising the FA Cup Final, Manchester United vs Chelsea, or in this case, Chelsea vs Aston Villa, we won't have a bunch of South African statisticians bothering to work out what happened the last time these two sides met and the average goals scored in a Wembley Cup Final over the last 50 years, that information will be just basically gleamed from how Ladbrokes have priced up, and they're pretty much, certainly in soccer terms, recognised as the Roxy Rocksborough's of soccer.
COMMISSIONER: In other words, there is an available source of that sort of information. Somebody who would want to know, for argument's sake, what the scores were in one-day games played at Trentbridge over a period, you can pick that up?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, you can pick that up, but basically there would be considerable confidence in finding out how Ladbrokes have priced up and just following.
COMMISSIONER: Now another type of information I understand that would be relevant, is the weather, right. Now even I can find on my TV set the necessary buttons to press which gives me the weather for the next four days, surely that's a fairly easy exercise, to get a projection as to what the weather's going to do?
MR ANDREWS: Yes, it is critical, certainly in test match cricket when the possibility of bad weather would lead to a draw or a no result, that would certainly be a case. Of course one wouldn't want to rely too much on the weatherman's forecasting, it's probably worse than most leading cricketers on the pitch.
COMMISSIONER: Well we'll come to the pitch. When would a book be opened - let's talk hypothetically of a one-day ODI on a Wednesday, when would the book open do you think?
MR ANDREWS: Well I think in that statement or in that question you hit the nail on the head, because that is the advantage for a bookmaker of getting what he perceives to be correct information earlier than somebody else, but generally speaking, the bookmaker would want to put out his spread as early as he could in order to accept more bets and obviously the sooner his price is out, or the sooner his spread is made public to his clientele, then the sooner he will start trading on the game. The punter on the other hand, who for all intents and purposes, hasn't got privileged information or a forecast of his own, will invariably wait until he's seen the pitch report of Sky Television or Supersport or whatever, based on what Ian Botham or somebody locally may say about the pitch, and having seen it for himself and heard the comments he will then form an opinion based on all the other information that's going through his head, he will phone his bookmaker and have a bet.
COMMISSIONER: Yes. No, I'm particularly interested in it from the perspective of the bookmaker, he would also presumably be dependant on that sort of information. I mean, you can't start endeavouring to define what the condition of the pitch is going to be next Wednesday, last Friday.
MR ANDREWS: Yes. So to answer your question, which I should have done in the first place, is you wouldn't have it any earlier than the morning of the particular cricket game.
COMMISSIONER: In any event, and then you'd get it from experts, ex-cricketers, on the television, even later in a point of time you'd get if from these guys who poke around on the pitch, but there's no - I'm trying to work out why anyone, a bookmaker might want to spend money on obtaining information that, as I said to you, he could get for nothing.
MR ANDREWS: The only advantage is he would be getting it early. Ja, that would be my only advantage, but of course unless - and I don't think for any minute that this is likely to happen, but I suppose one has to face up to the reality that we are implying that the pitch report that is given to television audiences is a correct one. If it weren't, that would be another issue entirely.
COMMISSIONER: Well at the best of times it's an inexact science, isn't it?
MR ANDREWS: Ja, exactly, and I think one should never lose sight of that. There is no such thing as a spread betting expert, either a punter or someone who sets the spreads. There are a myriad of things that can happen during a game, individual performances, team performances, that change the outcome of a cricket match and without human involvement, or deliberate human involvement, I think we've seen that cricket is a volatile sport.
COMMISSIONER: To what value to a bookmaker would be a pre-announcement of a team? In other words, before its announcement it normally goes hand-in-hand with the toss or the decision. I suppose from the point of view of a line bet on a particular player, you'd want to know if that person was playing and that sort of thing, would of some value to him?
MR ANDREWS: Well if a player wasn't playing, if a batsman wasn't batting, then obviously there would be no spread on him, but from a team perspective, if for example we as a group of punters happen to know that - I'm going to use a soccer team because it's the best example I can think of, but let's say for example that England happened to play against Malta the other day and you happen to know in advance that Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, David Seaman and generally the first team, or what's considered to be the first team, weren't playing, then you would be tempted to consider in your own mind, that the performance given by the side is likely to be less effective than it would be had it its best players. And from a cricketing perspective, if one had a Protea side that were sent out without Shaun Pollock, without Lance Klusener, without Derek Crookes and Darryl Cullinan - got to look after them, yes then one would be tempted to think that the second string are out in force. Not to say that they aren't capable of winning and putting in good performances, but it certainly would effect your judgement, particularly if they were playing against an Australian side who were sending out their best players. Which obviously Darryl, wouldn't include Shane.
COMMISSIONER: Yes, I don't think it would include Mr Seaman, I think he's no longer keeping goal for England, is he?
MR ANDREWS: I'd go for Nigel Martin. Quite right.
COMMISSIONER: Mr Andrews, I think it's time for me to thank you very much on behalf of all of us, for the assistance that you've given to this Commission. Thank you.
MR ANDREWS: Just in closing, I will get that information pertaining to the, I think it's the Finance and Indices, and pass it on to Shamiela. Thank you very much, Judge.
COMMISSIONER: Thank you.