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British man arrested for 'courtsiding' at Open may be part of crime syndicate

MELBOURNE -- A British man has been arrested and charged over alleged illegal courtside betting at the Australian Open, police said Wednesday.

The 22-year-old, reportedly part of an Eastern European crime syndicate that targets international sports events, was spotted by police during a match on Tuesday afternoon.

Details of the match were not revealed.

Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said the man was charged with one count of “engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome” and was bailed to appear before Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

“These offenses carry hefty penalties of up to 10 years in prison,” he said.

“We will be monitoring matches for the remainder of the tournament, so if you're thinking of engaging in this kind of behavior, think again.”

“Courtsiding” involves placing one person at a sports event who relays match details to another, usually overseas, to place bets.

The system takes advantage of the short time-lag, usually a matter of seconds, between play and live international broadcasts on TV.

“Tennis Australia applaud the work of Victoria Police and will continue to cooperate as much as possible in a pro-active fashion to remove any illegal activity from our sport,” said Tennis Australia official Ann West.

“We have arrangements in place with Victoria Police regarding security and sharing of intelligence. We will continue to do whatever is necessary.”

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