Match-fixing looms large over the sports betting industry and solutions to tackle betting-related corruption are more important than ever, particularly in light of this week's US Supreme Court decision against the country's general sports betting prohibition.
Match fixing is insider trading for sports. Unlike financial insider trading it is not covered by stringent regulations and the threat of criminal penalties. In a surprisingly large number of countries it is not a criminal offence. An attempt by the Council of Europe to enforce a standardised approach to tackle match-fixing is approaching its fourth anniversary, but still no closer to coming into force.
Sportradar managing director of integrity services Andreas Krannich says: “If there was evidence of insider trading on a Monday, by Tuesday there would be a public warning, and by midday Wednesday you would see a huge impact on the share prices and a police investigation. This should be the same for match-fixing.”
The lack of legal consequences does not make match-fixing less of a hot-button issue. Bookies run the risk of having to pay out huge wins from bets on manipulated events. Should a sport’s governing body find that an event it organises has been targeted, it may refuse to license data gathered on their competitions for gambling purposes.
These issues are played out against a backdrop of increased political interest. Anti-betting activists claim that sports betting puts sports at risk. The argument is that if bookies are encouraging fans to have a financial interest in a result going in their favour, they are increasing the likelihood of match-fixing.
Sports governing bodies moved to address this with demand for so-called integrity fees. Similar to the levy on UK horse racing, this is designed to ensure a percentage of profit or turnover generated by betting on a sport is reinvested to ensure it is protected from corruption. In the US this is expected to be a key topic as sports betting legislation is developed in a number of states.
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