The last few months have represented something of a golden age for wagering on Ukrainian table tennis in New Jersey. But now the rush is over, at least temporarily.
On Thursday, the New Jersey Divison of Gaming Enforcement suspended all betting on the sport until further notice. Suspicion of match fixing is behind the stoppage.
PlayNJ reached out to the Office of the Attorney General, which oversees the DGE, for comment. While there was no formal statement, PlayNJ is aware of a copy of a letter sent to sportsbook operators.
Details on the Ukrainian table tennis match-fixing allegations
Earlier this week, the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association let the DGE know about its concerns. A statement from the DGE to NJ sportsbooks said that while there is not yet any evidence of match fixing, the nature of the alert was sufficient to warrant the suspension.
The suspension includes, but is not limited to, Setka Cup, WIN Cup, and TT Cup matches. In addition, the DGE revoked approval for any matches that involve the following players, regardless of where they take place:
- Karen Dzhanibekyan
- Anastasia Efimova
- Ivan Gaysin
- Eduard Panichev
- Liliia Zaitseva
- Gleb Zotov
Right now, it’s unclear exactly how long it will take for the investigations to determine whether or not match fixing took place and if so, how broad it was. The DGE also hasn’t publicized exactly what the allegations include.
The department ordered sportsbooks to void outstanding wagers involving those five players, including parlays. Sportsbooks may grade other pending wagers for the sport “in the normal course,” however. Bettors should check with their sportsbook of choice’s house rules and customer service channels for specifics.
Individuals implicated in match-fixing schemes face bans from the sport, fines and imprisonment. Additionally, if the allegations prove true, it could have serious ramifications for the governing bodies on a long-term basis.
The end of widespread table tennis wagering in NJ?
Earlier this year, amid the abrupt cessation of North American sporting events, table tennis became somewhat of a hero for NJ sports betting apps. The contests drove hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of handle.
Questions about the integrity of Ukrainian table tennis arose in May. An ESPN report pointed to several inconsistencies, including the bodies that govern Setka Cup matches.
Those inconsistencies include confusion over exactly who is overseeing competitions and difficulties in verifying information from the matches.
Despite what might be looked back upon as early warning signs if the current allegations prove true, the DGE took no action at that time. Now, the DGE might take a page out of another state’s regulatory handbook.
After the ESPN report surfaced, the Indiana Gaming Commission limited its approved events for table tennis to exclude all but the top two governing bodies in the sport. That now becomes an option for the DGE, whether these new allegations are founded or not.
While sportsbooks take their lead from the department, the DGE doesn’t run sports betting apps. Within the regulatory parameters, operators decide for themselves what to offer action on. Perhaps more simply put, sportsbooks have some responsibility to ensure they have done their own due diligence.
On a long-term basis, the number of options for table tennis wagering in NJ may be limited. For the time being, Ukrainian contests are completely off the table.