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Evaluating the Recent Survivor Betting Scandalby David Bloomberg -- 09/20/2003
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You may have seen the headlines already – an offshore gambling website has once again shut down betting on Survivor. This isn’t the first time it has happened, of course. Last season, some gambling sites stopped bets on Survivor when they figured out that several people had been betting the maximum amounts on two contestants for several seasons, these were the only bets they made, and they were always right in picking the final two. Wow, what great luck! Or it could have had something to do with the reported fact that at least one of the gamblers worked for CBS. Whoops! Mark Burnett and a few other production folks are the only ones who know the outcome of the final vote, but a much larger number of people know who the final two are. So by betting the maximum on both of the final two, they lose one bet but win another that has a payout of much greater than 2:1.
It was in this way that we found out who the final two on Survivor: The Amazon would be – Jenna and Matt. At the time, many people were unwilling to believe that these two could be the finalists, and thought that perhaps this was yet another in a series of misinformation planted by the producers. However, this had nothing to do with the producers and it was indeed correct.
Those who were making these bets were identified (let’s face it, they weren’t very savvy about it) and we can assume that they are no longer being confided in with that sort of information. But just as the newest Survivor begins, another betting scandal emerges that threatens to tell us who the winner – or at least one of the final two – might be. If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.
The gambling website this time, BetWWTS.com, is based in Antigua. Under normal circumstances, they don’t see many – if any – bets on Survivor until at least after we’ve met the contestants. After all, if you bet before then, you are doing so blind. It would be like betting on football teams knowing only the names of the teams and nothing else about who is on the team, who the coach is, etc.
But as the beginning of Pearl Islands approached, over 15 people from Vancouver, British Columbia, and the surrounding area all bet on the same contestant. Hmmm. This obviously attracted immediate attention and the website shut down the betting. They wouldn’t say who the bets were on, but they weren’t exactly good at hiding it either, saying it was a woman who lives near Vancouver. The information about current Survivor contestants provide only one possibility: Sandra Diaz-Twine, who lives in Fort Lewis, Washington.
CBS, of course, wouldn’t comment on the validity of these bets, with a spokesman saying, “we’ll know for sure in December.” But with the previous betting scandal and another one that involved bets on The Bachelor (which also turned out to be correct), eyebrows are already being raised.
So could this be another case of the beans being spilled? Well, as already mentioned, only Mark Burnett and a few others know exactly who is the winner. Others may know the final two, however. And obviously if Sandra is in the final two, she would know that. The question is if she would risk everything by spilling the beans. The contestants all sign extremely rigid contracts that threaten them with large monetary damages if they reveal any information. There is simply no way that any betting on gambling websites could make up for such a loss, even if she were involved in getting a coalition of people together to do it. Plus, she would have to be very sure that she wins the final vote. So let’s discard that option.
A more likely scenario is that friends and family of Sandra have seen her since her time on Survivor and have noticed an extreme weight loss and/or Sandra slipped in accidentally saying something to somebody (or somebody heard something that they interpreted as such a slip). Indeed, The Olympian of Washington reported that Sandra returned home looking sad and weathered. So if word spread and acquaintances thought they could make some easy money by betting, perhaps that’s where the little syndicate came from. Still, that’s quite a gamble, as there is still no guarantee that she won. Lots of contestants come home looking sad and weathered, having lost a lot of weight, etc. A few small bets I could see, but 15 people making the maximum bet? That’s extremely odd.
So what are some other options? Certainly we’ve seen once already that it’s possible that an insider did it. But who? The CBS spokesman noted, “Certainly, Mr. Burnett doesn't need the money you could win from an offshore bookmaker.” Indeed. And it seems others involved would be rather hesitant to make such a bet after the previous people associated with the network were caught.
My thoughts are that this is the product of a rumor gone wild. While I have noted several times that it seems a risky thing to bet on, the fact is that there are people who will bet on almost anything, especially if they think they have a hint of inside information.
Last season, I figured that Jenna and Matt would indeed be the finalists not just because of that single betting scandal, but because of the history that was given, in which those same gamblers had repeatedly picked the correct top two. This time, however, there is no history and instead it looks like a number of people who know each other and all think they have inside information. The information could turn out to be true, but it could just as easily turn out to be false, and thus I do not consider it to be a valid spoiler.
I do continue to believe, however, that gambling on things like Survivor is a bad idea. Or, I should say, allowing such gambling is a bad idea. It should not be a surprise to anybody that scandals such as this one occur. You are dealing with an event that has already occurred. There are a number of people who know the results – or at least who know enough parts of those results to allow them to make some good guesses. Heck, I’ve picked the previous two winners before the seasons even began using available information and my own knowledge of the game. If I had made bets on both of those, I’d be significantly better off.
But I don’t gamble like that. However, other people do. And as long as betting sites allow gambling on an event where the outcome has already been determined, we are going to see these sorts of scandals. So far, the first Bachelor gambling scandal and the first Survivor betting scandal provided correct spoiler information. Will this Survivor scandal yield it as well? It’s impossible to say as of yet, but the fact remains that if betting is allowed and scandals inevitably follow, the public will have potential spoiler information revealed to them whether they want they want it or not.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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