Sydney Bettor Faces Fraud Charges Over Failed Sports Betting Algorithm


In a story that sounds like a tale straight out of a Hollywood scheme-gone-wrong thriller, a Sydney man named Michael Pryde stands at the center of a whirlwind of fraud allegations. The narrative pivots around an algorithm that he claimed gave him the upper hand against bookies, a digital strategy which he used as bait to reel in numerous unsuspecting investors into his sports betting fund. Now, it seems he may somehow sidestep a prison sentence.

Pryde, 32, was the solitary mastermind and director of the now insolvent entity, Simply the Bets Pty Ltd, which harnessed this supposed algorithm to place wagers on a broad range of sports from baseball and basketball to horse racing and golf. More than 100 investors succumbed to his confident pitch, with many of them being close friends and family. The ultimate price they paid for placing their trust in Pryde was a staggering AU$5.5 million (US$3.6 million), which was invested into, and in turn lost in, his high-stakes gambit.

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In March, Pryde admitted his guilt, confessing to fabricating a web of deception with false documents to gain financial advantage and admitting he swindled 18 investors in his Simply the Bets initiative out of AU$1.2 million (US$790K).

Despite his admission, Pryde’s defense attorney, John Sutton, painted a picture of a man entering with noble intentions in advocating on his behalf. He suggested that initially, his client’s scheme was laced with promising beginnings, and that the essence of fraud was never part of the initial gameplan.

With reports confirming that Pryde returned AU$2.4 million to original investors from August 2018 and January 2023 and pocketing AU$320K as his share, things started to spiral out of control when the betting waters grew rough and it became obvious the algorithm wasn’t working. In turmoil, Pryde turned his back on the analytical model he had once trusted implicitly, resorting instead to frantically chasing hits in a desperate bid to cover losses.

But, playing outside the rules of the game only accelerated his downfall. As Sutton relayed to the court, reckless risk-taking led to an inevitable demise as he sank deeper into the quicksand of financial ruin.

In a desperate Hail Mary, Pryde cobbled together fraudulent documents to delay bankruptcy, hoping to stage a dramatic comeback with even gutsier gambling maneuvers. This all proved futile, however.

Sutton, painting a picture of a man more foolhardy than malicious, emphasized his client’s lack of sophistication compared to notorious fraudsters such as Melissa Caddick. He highlighted Pryde’s modest lifestyle, free from extravagant splurges funded by his ill-gotten gains. Moreover, he focused on his client’s remorse and his proactive steps towards treating his gambling addiction as the evidence of the man’s character.

In light of these aspects, the attorney pleaded for leniency. Instead of incarceration, Sutton proposed that an intensive correction order served within the community would suffice.

Pryde is due to hear his fate on Thursday. Until then, the tale hangs in the balance – a solemn reminder of the brutal consequences of reckless gambling ambition, fueled by the promise of an infallible algorithm.