Steve Fletcher arrives at the Police Integrity Commission on Thursday. Photo: Peter Rae
Controversial punter Steve Fletcher received inside information from a former tennis professional to wager on a "rort in tennis" and a Victorian stablehand told him about an injury to a horse, explosive phone taps have revealed.
A series of intercepted phone calls have been aired at the Police Integrity Commission, which is examining how Mr Fletcher, one of the nation's biggest gamblers, used the accounts of NSW police officers to disguise his betting activities.
The hearing has been told that corporate bookmakers cancel the accounts of winning punters. Even those who lose by a margin of less than 7 per cent have their betting accounts cancelled.
In January this year, Mr Fletcher received a call from a former Australian tennis professional, whose name has been suppressed.
"There is a rort in the tennis," said the former pro, who wanted Mr Fletcher to wager on a women's doubles match at the Thailand Open. The players mentioned in the conversation were Irina Buryachok from the Ukraine and Valeria Solovyeva from Russia.
"Have we got any bowlers with Sportsbet?" the former player asked Mr Fletcher.
Earlier Mr Fletcher explained that a "bowler" was a person who placed bets on behalf of another person for a small commission.
The inquiry has heard that between 15 and 20 police officers were used as "bowlers" for Mr Fletcher and another gambler who is yet to give evidence, Darren Azzopardi.
Mr Fletcher agreed that the phrase a "rort in the tennis" could suggest the match was fixed, but he said in this case he thought it meant the players were in a "class above" the others and that he didn't pay much attention to it.
He said the former tennis pro would have had someone in Pattaya watching the match, who would have given him the information.
However, the next call revealed him trying to find a "bowler" so that he could put money on the match.
In another call from October 20, 2012, Mr Fletcher was heard talking a Victorian stablehand, whose name was also suppressed.
"Your phone's not bugged, is it?" asks the stablehand. "I don't know, could be," replied Mr Fletcher in the intercepted call.
The stablehand reported that a horse called Mosheen "can't f---in' win" because it had back problems. Mr Fletcher agreed that he "laid" or bet against Mosheen.
Mr Fletcher's barrister, Phillip Boulten, SC, objected to the series of phone intercepts, saying that if a police officer was not involved "none of this is relevant". Counsel assisting the inquiry, Peter Hamill, SC, successfully argued that during this period Mr Fletcher was using the accounts of a "whole series" of police officers in order to disguise his betting activities.
Fairfax Media has previously revealed Mr Fletcher's ability to gain inside information about tennis matches. "Steve loves to play tennis but even more to bet on it," wrote his friend Scott Woodward in his book Living and Learning with the World's Biggest Punters.
Woodward told of going to the Australian Open in Melbourne. "Steve mentioned that he had 'a good thing' as his spies had reported that one of the players was unable to make the early morning warm-up and things didn't seem good." According to Woodward, Mr Fletcher took advantage of the "incorrect odds" on the fit player.
In 2011, Mr Fletcher was disqualified from betting for a year by Racing Queensland after an investigation found he had prior knowledge that Bold Glance's jockey, Bobby El-Issa, would not ride to win. Mr Fletcher had backed the winner and bet that Bold Glance would not win.
The inquiry found Mr Fletcher was a close associate of the jockey, who was disqualified for 18 months. Mr Fletcher's ban was later overturned on appeal.
The PIC inquiry continues.