Point shaving
In organized sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

s, point shaving is a type of match fixing
Match fixing
In organised sports, match fixing, game fixing, race fixing, or sports fixing occurs as a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as...

 where the perpetrators try to prevent a team from covering a published point spread
Spread betting
Spread betting is any of various types of wagering on the outcome of an event, where the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager, rather than a simple "win or lose" outcome, such as fixed-odds betting or parimutuel betting. A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome...

. Unlike other forms of match fixing, sports betting
Sports betting
Sports betting is the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome.-United States of America:Aside from simple wagers such as betting a friend that one's favorite baseball team will win its division or buying a football "square" for the Super Bowl, sports betting is...

 invariably motivates point shaving. A point shaving scheme generally involves a sports gambler and one or more players of the sports team favored to win the game. In exchange for a bribe, the player or players agree to ensure that their team will not "cover the point spread". The gambler then wagers against that team.


Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 is a particularly easy medium for shaving points because of the scoring tempo of the game and the ease by which one player can influence key events. By deliberately missing shots or committing well-timed turnovers or fouls, a corrupt player can covertly ensure that his team fails to cover the point spread, without causing them to lose the game (or to lose so badly that suspicions are aroused). Although the NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 has adopted a zero tolerance
Zero tolerance
Zero tolerance imposes automatic punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct. Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively; they are...

 policy with respect to gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 activity by its players, some critics believe it unwittingly encourages point shaving due to its strict rules regarding amateurism, combined with the large amount of money wagered on its games. The NCAA has produced posters warning of this, the most notable being an athlete sitting alone on a bench with his face buried in his hands (although this may also look like the athlete suffered a tremendous defeat) with the caption "DO NOT BET ON IT" with warnings as to what could happen if they are involved in such a plan (as well as an athlete being caught gambling himself).

Famous examples of this are the CCNY Point Shaving Scandal
CCNY Point Shaving Scandal
The CCNY point shaving scandal of 1950-1951 was a college basketball point shaving gambling scandal that involved seven schools in all, with four in Greater New York and three in the Midwest...

 of the 1950-51 and the Boston College basketball point shaving scandal of 1978-79
Boston College basketball point shaving scandal of 1978-79
The Boston College basketball point shaving scandal of 1978-79 involved a scheme in which underworld figures recruited and bribed some Boston College basketball players to ensure the team would not win by the required margin allowing the gamblers in the know to place wagers against that team and...

, which was perpetrated by gangsters Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke.

Other Sports

The technique has been used by both amateur and professional athletes in many other sports. The intention is to manipulate scoring so that the final score results in a predetermined outcome. A typical sports game should always tend to behave in a nondeterministic manner. In other words, the exact final score of a game exists in a set which can contain more than a thousand possible combinations. Furthermore, nondeterminism
Nondeterminism may refer to:* Nondeterministic programming * Nondeterministic algorithm * Non-deterministic Turing machine * Indeterminacy in computation * Indeterminism...

 suggests that the final score of a sports game is practically unpredictable. However, an athlete is capable of changing the outcome and can thusly create huge financial changes (for better or worse) for gamblers in prediction markets.

In most reported cases of point shaving, only one athlete is involved. However, there is one recent report of a point shaving scheme which involved the coordinated effort of referees and numerous players in German soccer. A total of 25 people where investigated in connection with the scheme. In June 2005, the German Football Association
German Football Association
The German Football Association is the governing body of football in Germany. A founding member of both FIFA and UEFA, the DFB organises the German football leagues, including the national league, the Bundesliga, and the men's and women's national teams. The DFB is based in Frankfurt and is...

 (DFB) and German prosecutors launched separate probes into charges that referee Robert Hoyzer
Robert Hoyzer
Robert Hoyzer is a retired German football referee, who scandalized German football by fixing matches in the Bundesliga scandal of 2005.-Early life:...

 bet on and fixed several matches that he worked, including a German Cup tie. Hoyzer later admitted to the allegations; it has been reported that he was involved with Croat gambling syndicates. He also implicated other referees and players in the match fixing scheme. Hoyzer, Marks, two other referees and fourteen players - were investigated in connection with at least 10 matches that may have been fixed in 2004. The first arrests in the Hoyzer investigation were made on January 28 in Berlin, and Hoyzer himself was arrested on February 12 after new evidence apparently emerged to suggest that he had been involved in fixing more matches than he had admitted to. Hoyzer has been banned for life from football by the DFB. On March 10, a second referee, Dominik Marks, was arrested after being implicated in the scheme by Hoyzer.

Current Use

In the past, small bookies saw large profits in small point shaving schemes; however, the
conspiracy has reached new levels in present day sports. According to the 1999 Gambling Impact Study, an estimated $80 billion to $380 billion was illegally bet each year on sporting events in the United States. This estimate dwarfed the $2.5 billion legally bet each year in Nevada.

Such an enormous amount of illegal activity makes organized sports a likely candidate for corruption. On August 15, 2007, an NBA referee, Tim Donaghy
Tim Donaghy
Tim Donaghy is a former professional basketball referee who worked in the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons, from 1994 to 2007. During his career in the NBA, Donaghy officiated in 772 regular season games and 20 playoff games...

, pled guilty to two felonies related to wagering on games that he officiated. And despite providing strict regulations for its participants, organized sports has shown little to no interest in legalizing the sports gambling industry which continues to remain highly unregulated
and illegal for the most part in the United States.
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