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Giants say players engaged in pool betting on team’s games

Kyodo

The Yomiuri Giants confirmed Monday that the team’s players routinely took part in pool betting on the Central League team’s games.

Six days after a fourth Giants pitcher was found to have gambled on Nippon Professional Baseball games, the head of NPB’s investigations committee, Motonari Otsuru, said an investigation was going forward on players betting on their own games.

Prior to each game, the pitchers and position players would form separate pools. One player in each group would speak out and would collect 5,000 from each teammate in the pool, while paying out ¥1,000 if the team lost.

The team’s general affairs director Kiyoshi Morita said the value of the pots involved in the betting totaled about ¥140,000 per game, with ¥80,000 bet among the position players and ¥60,000 among the pitchers.

“It was a matter of congratulating the person who spoke up and brought the team good luck,” Morita said. “There is a tint of superstition about it, completely different from the act of betting. It’s the absolute opposite of the act of trying to throw a game.”

Morita said the practice started after the Giants played poorly at the start of the 2012 season. The custom came to light last year during NPB’s investigations, when pitchers Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto were found to have been involved in betting.

All three have been released and are now indefinitely banned from baseball.

“We complied with NPB’s decision not to make an official announcement (about the practice),” Morita said. “In the first place, it’s not really betting. The amounts involved were trivial to the point that we decided it was not worth making an announcement.”

A fourth pitcher, Kyosuke Takagi, admitted his involvement last Tuesday after a weekly magazine called the Giants to quiz the club about Takagi’s gambling.