What Is Point Shaving?

Point shaving is an illegal practice wherein a player, a coach or a referee involved in an athletic contest like a football or a basketball game limit the number of points scored in the particular contest. This illegal practice is often a collaboration between the personalities who are involved and are material to the outcome of the contest, and operators of illegal gambling to manipulate the final scores of the game.

Points are said to be "shaved" in a particular game when the players, coaches or referees ensure that the winning point margin is smaller than the point spread predicted by oddsmakers. With a predetermined point spread outcome, gamblers can then profit off the game by placing the appropriate bets or by taking bets for either of the teams. The players, coaches or referees are then compensated by the gamblers for their participation in the ruse.

The players are often the ones who are approached and bribed by gamblers because they have direct involvement in the game. For example, a football player can intentionally fumble or lose the football either to keep the winning margin closer or to give opposing team to score and make the point spread smaller. Corrupt basketball players on the other hand shave points by intentionally missing shots and by committing well-timed fouls and turnovers.