‘Piegate’ Scandal Leads to £84,000 Fine for SunBets
An £84,000 ($120,000) fine has been levied against SunBets, the betting arm of British tabloid The Sun, over semi-professional soccer player Wayne Shaw’s decision to eat a meat pie.
The UK Gambling Commission issued a strong warning to betting organizations regarding the nature of the bets they offer, highlighting how individuals can easily manipulate the market of the wager. In this instance, it would be impossible to know whether Shaw knew of the wager and chose to eat the pie to tip the results one direction or another.
Last year, Shaw became a minor global press sensation as Sutton United’s goalie, not for his athletic skills, but for his pie-eating antics from the sidelines.
SunBets had offered 8/1 odds against this very incident taking place. Beginning as a joke about Shaw’s weight (he is considered unusually heavy for a football player at 320 lbs.), the chant “who ate all the pies?” has become linked to his presence on the pitch. Shaw got in on the joke by deciding to have a sideline snack, but it cost him his (part-time) job.
Australian betting firm Tabcorp UK, which operates SunBets, was also reprimanded for offering odds on the potential for a streaking incident during the game. As it would be incredibly easy for people to place a bet and then perform the associated action, the company was basically encouraging people to perform an illegal act, argued the UKGC.
“Novelty betting markets, such as the market Tabcorp UK offered on last year’s FA Cup tie between Sutton United and Arsenal, may seem like a bit of fun but the consequences were serious with the potential to encourage someone to commit a criminal act or breach a sports governing body’s rules,” said the regulator.
Shaw was fined £375 ($537) and banned for two months for violating betting rules by the Football Association. According to coach Paul Doswell, Shaw later resigned from the club, “in tears.”
Tabcorp was also found to have allowed over 100 self-excluded gamblers to continue placing bets by providing them with the ability to open duplicate accounts. In its subsequent investigation, the UKGC argued that Tabcorp had failed to “carry out a specific risk assessment on the potential impact of the pie-eating market on the individual who had a pivotal role in determining the outcome of that market.”
Tabcorp issued a statement that it “should not have placed reliance on the eating of the pie being broadcast live on the BBC as being sufficient to fully manage the potential integrity risks involved.”