National

Giants pitchers to be banned from baseball for betting on games

Kyodo

Nippon Professional Baseball will ban three Yomiuri Giants pitchers indefinitely for their involvement in a gambling scandal and fine the team ¥10 million, NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki said Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, sources said Tokyo police have interrogated the players, Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto, who have admitted betting on baseball games.

During the questioning, which was conducted on a voluntary basis, all three confirmed that they wagered on games, the sources said.

The police plan to interrogate others suspected of involvement and to look for links to organized crime.

Betting on baseball games is illegal.

The Central League club said Monday that it would release the three pitchers, and that Atsushi Harasawa, the team’s representative to Nippon Professional Baseball, has resigned to take responsibility.

A panel set up by the club and NPB found that Fukuda had bet on about 10 professional games in Japan and 10 major league games in the U.S., in addition to several Japanese high school games, between May and September this year. He placed the bets with a graduate school student whom he had met through Kasahara.

Kasahara bet on around 10 games with the student and 10 to 20 games with another acquaintance between April and October last year, while Matsumoto bet on more than 10 games with the acquaintance from June to October last year, the panel said.

The student and the acquaintance were found to be habitual gamblers on baseball games.

The panel said the Yomiuri pitchers were not involved in fixing any games.

On Monday, the Giants said the acquaintance took Kasahara to an exclusive casino, from which he came away with hundreds of thousands of yen. The team’s front office ordered Kasahara to return the money, issued a strict warning and fined him, but he continued to gamble. Fukuda and Matsumoto also visited the casino.

The club questioned all team members, including support and front office staff. After speaking with 276 people, the team was unable to learn whether anyone other than the three pitchers had violated Nippon Professional Baseball’s charter.

The team did learn, however, that some of those questioned gambled frequently on mahjong and cards.

The club consulted with the police following the revelation of the pitchers’ involvement in gambling.