Sport bettingFriday, May 16, 2014
Illegal markets launder US$140 billion a year
A new study of sports betting, corruption and match-fixing has estimated that organized crime launders US$140 billion each year by laying bets on sporting events.
PARIS — Criminals are using betting on sports events to launder US$140 billion each year, a report said yesterday, exposing a lack of effective regulation that allows match-fixing to spread.
Soccer and cricket were identified as the sports most threatened by criminals seeking to rig the gambling market but tennis, basketball, motor racing and badminton were also affected, according to the report, which is based on a two-year research.
“The rapid evolution of the global sports betting market has seen an increased risk of infiltration by organized crime and money laundering,” said Chris Eaton of the Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).
The report, compiled by the ICSS think-tank and the Sorbonne university in Paris, said that 80 percent of global sports betting was being carried out on illegal markets, placing it beyond the reach of regulators and investigators.
A number of soccer leagues have been hit by match-fixing scandals in recent years and three Pakistani cricketers were jailed for a plot to deliberately bowl no balls during a test match against England at Lord’s in 2010.
According to the report, 53 per cent of the illegal betting comes from Asia, while 49 per cent of the legal market is based in Europe.
Technology and live television have transformed the sports betting market in recent years, allowing viewers to bet on a wider range of events and gamble in real time as a match progresses.
Several territories were identified as “sports betting havens,” with England topping the list with 114 online betting licences granted, ahead of Malta (86).
“It’s too important to be left to the bite of compromise,” said Eaton.
Eaton, a former head of security at FIFA, said the changes have made suspect betting patterns harder to spot.
“The problem is getting worse,” Mohammed Hanzab, president of the ICSS, said in his opening speech at the Sorbonne yesterday. “If we do nothing sport will become to be seen as an arena of corruption.”
“We call on governments to act, and act now. We owe it to everyone across the globe, everyone who expects to watch and enjoy a fair contest,” he added.
The report calls for more cooperation between government, sports governing bodies and the legal bookmaking industry to attack the problem from both ends. Among its recommendations are the creation of a sports betting tax to finance investigations into match-fixing and illegal betting, a move that would go down badly with the betting industry.
It also calls for an integrity risk assessment and management system for sports organizations and an outright ban on players, coaches and administrators betting on competitions and matches in their sport.
In the wake of an outbreak of alleged matchfixing in the English Football League and English non-league soccer, the FA is considering plans to extend its rules prohibiting players from gambling on competitions in which they have an interest to an outright ban on all betting.
The report also calls for more effective regulation, including the establishment of an international blacklist of illegal operators agreed across boards, and greater sharing of intelligence between nations and sports. It said an international agreement on the manipulation of sport competition was an “urgent necessity.”
AP, Reuters, theguardian.com