A former leading Australian table tennis player has avoided being sent to jail for betting on rigged table tennis matches in Ukraine.
Adam Michael Green, 43, admitted placing 1170 bets on fixed table tennis tournament matches in Ukraine from his Newcastle home with Australian online bookmakers, winning $473,000 for him and his associates overseas.
Newcastle District Court Judge Peter McGrath on Tuesday said he was satisfied Green was genuinely remorseful and ashamed for what he had done and the impact it had had on the game he loved.
Judge McGrath said a psychological report indicated Green, who had no previous criminal history, needed ongoing treatment for his gambling disorder which would not be available behind bars.
He ordered Green be placed on a three-year intensive correction order, complete 100 hours of community service and not have any betting account for three years.
Green, who had placed the bets on the fixed matches over seven months before his arrest in December 2020, pleaded guilty to one count of using corrupt information to bet on an event and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
A third charge of possessing the corrupt information and providing it to another person was taken into account in sentencing.
Green had been due to stand trial in June before pleading guilty to the two charges after prosecutors agreed to drop more than 60 other charges.
Judge McGrath on Tuesday said these sort of white collar crimes were not victimless.
He said the betting market in Australia was not without its controversy but nonetheless was a legal, regulated market regarded by society and government “as a legitimate field of economic endeavour and enterprise”.
“Persons placing bets are likely to be defrauded or suffer losses when individuals in possession of corrupt information use it to their own advantage,” the judge said.
“All players in the market, those who set the markets and those who bet on them, are entitled to expect it is a level playing field.”
Defence barrister Benjamin Bickford had claimed Green’s offending was opportunistic and began after he innocently contacted a Ukrainian table tennis player on Facebook to try to get tips when he was unemployed.
Mr Bickford said Green had a gambling problem at the time and agreed to set up a number of betting accounts in Australia for the Ukrainian to bet on table tennis matches in Eastern Europe.
Green, who arranged to take a 20 per cent cut from the winnings, claimed he did not initially know the matches were fixed when making the bets but soon realised they must have been as there was no way the Ukrainian “could be that lucky” with his tips.
Green had been trying to supplement his unemployment benefits with gambling but the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down many international sports, apart from table tennis in Eastern Europe.
He had lost his job as an Uber driver because of the pandemic.
“He was a person who, it seems sadly like a lot of people who are fortunate to play sport professionally at least in this country, had come to an end to their career and found themselves a bit lost,” Mr Bickford said.
“He spent several years without much direction and had little to fall back on once his career finished in about 2013, only to have his only means of income taken away from him during the pandemic.
“It’s the context of those circumstances where he took advantage of this opportunity and one thing led to another and it’s accepted he became greedy.”
The former table tennis junior star had trained in Europe and was considered for a spot on the 2012 Australian Olympic team.
Green was arrested in December 2020 after detectives from the State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad, assisted by Sport Integrity Australia, set up Strike Force Brombal to investigate a transnational gambling syndicate placing corrupt bets.