Amidst Concerns About Integrity, IGC Pulls Russian Table Tennis Off The Board

Posted on June 1, 2020

Hoosiers can no longer bet on Russian table tennis.

Moscow’s Liga Pro has been one of the most popular betting options in recent months.

When COVID-19 came into the picture, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) was forced to get creative. The list of betting options has been a short one.

Since the shutdowns started, the IGC has been adding all sorts of new sports and leagues to that list. So far, that’s been everything from Korean baseball to Belarusian soccer.

Out of all of those new options, table tennis has been the most popular. However, the IGC’s new changes cut down the options for betting on the sport.

Indiana puts limits on table tennis betting

Without the typical football, basketball, or baseball available, gamblers have turned to table tennis for their betting needs.

Although its hardly a sports betting staple, the sport has been surprisingly popular in the absence of the normal options.

Up until now, Hoosiers could bet on all sorts of matches from all sorts of leagues.

However, the IGC has made some changes that narrow down the options. From now on, every table tennis market in Indiana will have to come from member countries of the International Table Tennis Federation or European Table Tennis Union.

So what does that really mean for bettors?

Basically, there’s no more Russian table tennis betting. There have been some concerns about the integrity of the matches taking place in Russian leagues.

There’s no information out there on Russian table tennis

According to ESPN, The problem is that states like Indiana have with Russian table tennis is that the league operates in secrecy.

Even with sportsbooks around the country taking action on Moscow’s Liga Pro, information on the league is pretty much nonexistent.

Where are the games taking place? Are the sportsbook-reported results accurate? Who’s governing the games? No one seems to have an answer.

The governing bodies of table tennis have nothing to do with the games, so it isn’t clear who is ensuring the integrity of these overseas matches. The Table Tennis Federation of Russia handles most of the country’s events. Even they say that they have no idea what’s happening with Liga Pro’s events.

In pre-pandemic days, Liga Pro was regularly updating its website and social media accounts with scores and other news. Those updates stopped back in March.

Even table tennis officials don’t know what’s happening

All sports in Moscow have been shut down for a while now because of COVID-19.

According to Marina Znamenskaya, a marketing manager from one of Liga Pro’s partner companies, the matches are taking place in China, the Czech Republic, and Belarus.

However, there’s been no way to verify any of that. Officials and athletes from Liga Pro have refused to comment. With no way to watch the games or keep up with the league, it’s hard to know if the matches are taking place at all.

The International Table Tennis Federation is the sport’s top governing body. Even Jonny Cowan, the federation’s marketing manager, says that he isn’t familiar with Liga Pro.

The European Table Tennis Union is another big regulator, and its president Ronald Kramer isn’t sure if these matches are really happening either.

“I do not know, but I would be surprised if they are played.”

If the biggest names in table tennis don’t know anything about Liga Pro, that obviously brings up some red flags.

The IGC investigate Liga Pro

With all of this uncertainty around the integrity of Liga Pro’s matches, states are starting to take action.

Gaming officials from Iowa tried to research the league’s events but failed to get in contact with anyone. That could get the league pulled from the state after its trial status expires on June 24.

Noticing the pattern here? No one from any table tennis group, gambling regulator, or sportsbook has any idea if Liga Pro’s matches are fair, or if they’re even really happening.

Although matches are allegedly taking place all the time, no one from the league is willing to share the information.

So, with Liga Pro seemingly operating in the wild west, the IGC is now investigating the league’s operations. The IGC released a statement about its plans.

“We are suspending the activity out of an abundance of caution. It is not optimal for these events to be held while we are engaged in this review because that could create unnecessary time pressure.”

Clearly, the IGC wants to take its time with this.

Since information has been next to impossible to come by, the investigation may take a while. However, with the slew of sketchy practices from Liga Pro, it’s hard to imagine that the IGC will re-approve betting on the league anytime soon.

Thankfully for Hoosiers, more betting options are here to replace Liga Pro.

The UFC, NASCAR, and golf have returned to give Indiana bettors a few more options. The IGC also just approved betting on bull riding and the Premiere Lacrosse League, if you’re looking for something different.

Between the new options and some old ones returning, Indiana’s online sportsbooks still have plenty to offer while this table tennis situation sorts itself out.

Jake Garza Avatar
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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