New Jersey suspends betting on Ukrainian table tennis after match-fixing alert

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on Thursday instructed the state's sportsbooks to suspend betting on all table tennis events in Ukraine or any matches involving six players, after being warned of potential match-fixing.

The Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association alerted New Jersey regulators on July 7 of match-fixing concerns regarding Ukrainian table tennis, according to the notice provided to sportsbooks by gaming enforcement and obtained by ESPN.

"While there is not yet any evidence that any match fixing occurred in New Jersey, due the nature of the alert, the Division is suspending approval for wagering on all table tennis events in the Ukraine, including but not limited to the Setka Cup, WIN Cup, and TT Cup," the notice states.

Offering betting on matches involving Liliia Zaitseva, Ivan Gaysin, Karen Dzhanibekyan, Eduard Panichev, Anastasia Efimova and Gleb Zotov is also prohibited, regardless of location, according to the notice.

A spokesperson for Setka Cup told ESPN in an email that the matter is under investigation and Efimova and Zotov -- the only two players named who have participated in Setka Cup, according to the spokesperson -- have been suspended. The spokesperson added that Setka Cup's efforts to prevent match-fixing include requiring participants to take lie detector tests.

"In cases when Tournament Organisers identify any suspicions in athletes' conduct or violence [sic] of Setka Cup Player's Code of Conduct, the standard procedure of investigation takes place," the spokesperson wrote in an email to ESPN in the days after New Jersey halted betting on Ukrainian table tennis. "Players were immediately suspended from current and future games until the full process of investigation is completed."

Colorado gaming regulators also suspended betting on table tennis events taking place in Ukraine on Thursday.

With most major sports halted by the coronavirus pandemic, betting on obscure international table tennis became increasingly popular at U.S. sportsbooks, with hundreds of thousands of dollars wagered daily on matches that took place throughout the day. However, an ESPN report in May found uncertainties surrounding Ukrainian and Russian table tennis leagues, including what governing bodies were overseeing leagues like Setka Cup.

Following ESPN's report, the Indiana Gaming Commission suspended betting on any table tennis events not sanctioned by the sport's top governing bodies -- International Table Tennis Federation and European Table Tennis Union -- while Colorado, New Jersey and Nevada, among others, continued to allow wagering on leagues like Setka Cup.

The president of the Ukrainian Tennis Table Federation on March 30 urged the stoppage of Setka Cup matches due to the pandemic, saying that anyone who played was subject to disqualification from future UTTF competitions. The UTTF would later disqualify 365 players for competing in Setka Cup matches during the pandemic.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement's suspension of betting on Ukrainian table tennis remains in effect until further notice.