Sports Betting: A bleak outlook on match-fixing in sports

Friday, Aug 26, 2016 13:03

“Betting worth billions. Elite players. Violent threats. Covert messages with Sicilian gamblers. And suspicious matches at Wimbledon.” This is how Heidi Blake and John Templon of Buzzfeed summed up their allegations, published on 17th January. With the latest revelations concerning match-fixing in the tennis industry, some commentators call for stricter regulation of sports betting companies.

Together with the BCC, Buzzeed found match-fixing to be widespread in tennis. Furthermore, it is suggested that sport's governing bodies have been repeatedly warned about a core of 16 players, all ranking in the top 50. Despite these warnings, none were excluded or fined, and half of these players were due to play the Australian Open a day after the revelations.

The investigation indicates that had the tennis authorities did not react to allegations brought to their attention ins 2008. The sport could have been cleared at the time. Orchestrated by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy, the question arises if the gambling industry can help combat max-fixing in sport.

Is it even possible to assess if a fault was deliberate, or reaction time unnaturally slow?

The gambling industry could contribute to cracking down on corruption by making it less difficult for gamblers to gain from fixed results. Should companies allow for “in play” bets? Should gamblers be allowed to place bets via gambling sites in different jurisdictions to their home jurisdiction?

The latter would make it easier for authorities to pursue gambling syndicates, and bring them to justice. This would result in match-fixing gaining in risk and losing its appeal. The former would reduce the chances of criminals betting on a single serve or point.

Some sporting authorities have begun addressing the responsibilities of gambling operators in regard to sports bets, and the legitimacy thereof. However, both industries' success is subject to cooperation. Sports betting companies direct much of its advertising at spectators of sporting events, while the sport industry profits immensely from the advertising revenue. With increased coverage of certain sports on television, revenue simultaneously climbs for authorities, sportspeople and gambling operators alike.

Match-fixing will likely be revealed in sports, other than tennis and football. The likelihood of this issue affecting in particular less well-known sporting events is likely. These are of lesser interest to the media, and subsequently, the risk of being exposed of match-fixing are much smaller.