In its first quarterly report, the sports betting integrity body ESSA has revealed that tennis is the sport most targeted by match-fixers.

The integrity watchdog revealed that over the first three months of this year, 49 alerts were raised over unusual or suspicious betting pattern such as atypical bet sizes or volumes that continue even after prices are corrected to deter such activity.

When such alerts are created, ESSA checks with all its members to ensure the unusual activity is not simply a result of human error such as incorrect pricing, and if no clear reason can be found, it is seen as suspicious and most likely an attempt to fix the event.

A total of 24 of the alerts generated in Q1 were deemed suspicious, with the majority concerning tennis matches. Tennis was responsible for more than half the total alerts, and 17 of the 24 deemed suspicious, far ahead of any other sport.

Alerts by sport:

Sport   Tennis Football Greyhounds Table Tennis Ice Hockey Snooker Bowls Boxing
Not suspicious   10 10 3 0 0 0 1 1
Suspicious   17 3 0 2 1 1 0 0
Total   27 13 3 2 1 1 1 1

With 3 suspicious alerts and 10 non-suspicious alerts, football was the second most-targeted sport, with ice hockey, snooker and table tennis (on two occasions) the only other sports in which suspicious activity was identified.

“Fundamentally, betting-related match-fixing is an attempt to defraud betting operators and their customers by corrupting sporting events,” ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane explained. “It is an issue that causes economic and social damage and that requires international cross-sector cooperation.”

“ESSA and its members are committed to engaging with other responsible stakeholders to address this criminal activity. We continue to work closely with organisations such as the IOC, European Commission and Council of Europe to develop processes that detect and deter corruption,” he added.

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