Christchurch - New Zealand police say they ejected several men from Saturday's Cricket World Cup opening match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka for what they suspect were prohibited betting activities.
An International Cricket Council spokesman later confirmed to Fairfax Media at least one man was evicted from Hagley Oval for "using his communication devices to provide match information to people outside this country."
Police said plain clothes officers mingled with the 17 000 crowd, on the lookout for "betting cheats" who were making excessive use of laptops or mobile phones. The operation was part of a crackdown on 'courtsiding' or 'pitchsiding' in which gamblers take advantage of broadcasting delays to gain an advantage over sports bookmakers.
Fairfax Media said police watched a group of men for about 10 minutes, near the end of New Zealand's innnings, before detectives led them away for questioning. They were taken to a police tent at the ground where they were interviewed before being ejected.
The ICC spokesperson told Fairfax "we've got systems in place and these systems are working. People involved in illegal activity are being nabbed and chucked out
"We all know there's a problem and we're dealing with the problem the best we can."
Courtsiding is not illegal in New Zealand but does breach terms under which spectators are permitted to attend games.
"We know what to look for," Superintendent Sandra Manderson of Christchurch Police told Fairfax. "We're aware that people are attempting to operate at venues and they will be detected, evicted and trespassed from all venues."