Fumier mentions the curious story of a so-called “betting scam” operared by a syndicate in darkest Yuen Long. I saw this story on the TV news last night, but I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I can’t find it in the newspapers today – so I am grateful to Fumier for filling in the gaps. It seems that this enterprising group arranged for spectators at games in the English Premier League and La Liga to call them whenever a goal was scored, and then promptly placed a bet on on the next goalscorer – before the bookmakers had updated their odds.
This is nothing new. Many years ago in the UK, before we had the Premiership, mobile phones or those darned Internets - or even much betting on football - people used to ‘do the football pools’. This curious activity involved predicting which football matches would end up as draws (don’t ask) and entering this on the pools coupon, normally submitted to an agent before the games started on Saturday afternoon. Naturally enough, from August through to May the list of matches was taken from the Football League, but during the close season, it was based on the results of Australian soccer games.
However, the Pools companies still allowed punters to submit coupons on Saturday morning. Someone figured out that due to the time difference, the games were already finished by that time, and decided that if they submitted their coupon at the last minute with the not insignificant advantage of knowing the results, they might stand a better chance of winning. Remember that this was in the days when making an international call required three days notice and cost slightly more than dinner for two at the Ritz, so it did require a certain amount of initiative and expense to operate this scheme.
I doubt that anyone was prosecuted because no criminal offence had been committed, but the Pools companies changed their deadline to prevent it from happening again. I get in trouble if I describe Fumier as a lawyer, but his opinion (as someone who is “probably a member of the legal fraternity”) is that it’s hard to imagine that the syndicate in Yuen Long are guilty of any kind of scam. However, it is illegal to place bets in Hong Kong except with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, so PC Plod arrested some of them and confiscated a few of their PCs.
I suppose it must have looked just a little suspicious to have a large bet placed on David Prutton to score for Southampton just a few seconds before the news came through of his goal.