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Tennis Pro Hit With Fines for Betting Sponsorship

A former Miami tennis pro is being hit with a $56,250 fine for violating the International Tennis Integrity Agency’s (ITIA) rules regarding accepting sponsorships from regulated betting operators. It’s a pretty massive fine for a fairly minor player and even the ITIA acknowledges that the case is more about perception than any actual wrongdoing.

James Blake is a 44-year-old former top 10 ATP-ranked player who currently works as the director of the Miami Open. The Harvard graduate retired from professional play in 2013, but is still considered a “covered person” by the ITIA due to his connection with the Miami Open.

ITIA rules are pretty clear on the matter of betting sponsorships stating, “No Covered Person shall directly or indirectly, facilitate, encourage and/or promote Tennis Betting (‘Facilitation’).” That’s why his brief stint in 2021 and 2022 as a BetRivers brand ambassador is so problematic for tennis’ governing body.

ITIA officials admit that Blake is being made an example and pretty clearly state that much in a recent press release saying, “This case is more a matter of perception, rather than corruption. The rules apply to players, coaches, officials and accredited tournament staff – who all have the ability to influence results or have access to inside information.”

Thanks to a series of scandals in the 2010s, professional tennis is extremely sensitive to the perception that its players are influenced by sports betting. That’s why the ITIA is handing out such a massive fine to such an obscure figure for such a small infraction.

Blake’s punishment also included a suspended fine of $131,250 and a suspended ban of 18 months, both of which will be enforced if he commits any further infractions.