Stuart Bingham has been handed a six month ban, three of which are suspended, following a long investigation into his betting on the sport.
The 2015 world champion, who also has to fork out £20,000 to cover the costs incurred by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, has been given until November 6th to appeal the decision.
If the ban is upheld, Bingham will miss a significant and important chunk of the season, which most notably includes the UK Championship in York and the prestigious Masters at the Alexandra Palace in London.
Bingham joins a now increasingly growing list of players who have been caught up in betting scandals.
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It first became clear that Bingham had something to answer for when the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee announced on March 15th of this year that it would chair an investigation.
Several months after an initial hearing was held in July, in which Bingham was questioned over his betting history, a second tribunal was held on October 11th in order to determine a sanction after he was found guilty of placing bets over at least a seven year period – including bets on his own matches.
The 42 year-old’s suspension will come into effect on the October 28th, meaning he’ll also miss next week’s International Championship and a string of other lucrative ranking events.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is very disappointing to see such a high profile player fall foul of the WPBSA Betting Rules.”
“Stuart is a great competitor and I have no doubt he has always played to the best of his ability. This case shows that there are no exceptions to the rules.
“Players must understand that they cannot bet on snooker at all, even if they are not involved in a match or event.
“Any player found to breach of the betting rules will face the most serious of consequences.”
Fans, media, and fellow players have already been quick to state their opinion on social media, with recent English Open champion Ronnie O’Sullivan questioning the length of the ban in comparison to some of the other high-profile outcomes in the past.
The “Rocket” said on Twitter: “I think he’s had a result…steve lee got 12 years for the same thing. No consistency.”
While there is definitely an argument to be made that the bans handed out for all betting and match-fixing cases do come across as somewhat random, it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t a question on whether Bingham tried to influence the outcome of any of his own matches.
In truth, though, it’s unlikely that Bingham, who famously is nicknamed “Ballrun” for the luck he is supposed to enjoy on the table, will get much sympathy.
It’s hard to argue with that as, whether it’s a case of being naive or just acting with stupidity, all the players should know better than to get involved with a poisoned chalice that is betting on snooker.
There have been numerous cases down the years that have come into the public eye, providing enough warning signs to suggest that this possibly isn’t the best practice to be undertaking.
Even after the dust settles, Bingham’s legacy will undoubtedly be tarnished and, after carving out a particularly impressive career in his latter years, that’s ultimately very disappointing.