Organised crime from across the globe is infiltrating the multi-billion online betting industry with increasing ease, Griffith University researchers have shown.
In the wake of the recent European match-fixing scandal, Dr Ashutosh Misra says the only way to combat betting-led corruption is for the gambling industry, sports authorities and law enforcement agencies to work together.
Dr Misra from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University says the combination of cheating and betting based on inside information is a huge threat to modern sport.
Dr Misra and colleagues Professor Jack Anderson from Queens University, Belfast and Inspector Jason Saunders from the Queensland Police Service, presented a paper on sports betting at the Interpol Global Academic Experts Meeting for Integrity in Sport in Singapore in November 2012.
They found that more research was needed for effective responses by sport and government agencies to bolster the integrity of sports events and undermine the illicit, online behaviour of criminal syndicates.”
Dr Misra said the proliferation of online betting and gambling, and the rapid development of exotic or spot-betting had exposed the sport to vulnerabilities of transnational and organised crime involvement.
“Online betting has taken over from traditional forms of gambling and has increased the ease with which corruption can occur,” he said.
“From an industry worth $100 million in the mid-1990s, online betting in Australia is expected to reach $3 billion by the end of 2020.”
Professor Jack Anderson says the ‘where, when and what’ a gambler can bet on is virtually unlimited.
“Wireless and telecommunication developments mean people can bet continually from home, the pub or at the event itself. This flexibility and anonymity lends itself to betting conspiracies,’’ he said.
The most common sports where betting corruption is rife include football, cricket, horse-racing and cycling with spot-fixing and spread-betting now more popular than match-fixing.
Spot betting offers a gambler odds based on a particular moment or statistic in the game; such as first scorer in football, the run-rate for a certain part of a cricket game or the performance of an individual rider in a leg of a cycling race.
“It’s much easier to have a player do something particular at a specific time in a game which need not impact on its overall outcome,” Professor Anderson said.
The researchers support the establishment of a new national unit to oversee sporting integrity. This would comprise a diverse body of experts from law enforcement agencies as well as those experienced in sports administration and the betting industry.
Inspector Saunders says life-skills programs for athletes should also incorporate information on gambling-led corruption and the corruption process.
“As gambling-led corruption is financially motivated, the management of athletes’ financial affairs should be an important part of their training.
“Corruption in sport should be recognised as part of the overall National Anti Corruption Plan rather than simply an aspect of sport governance.”