Questions and AnswersWhat are match fixing and illegal betting?Match fixing is when someone, through illicit means, influences the results of a game or athletic competition. The purpose of match fixing is usually to generate financial gain for oneself or others, and is almost always related to betting. Unauthorized betting means that it is prohibited, in person or via proxy, to bet on the outcome of a game, or on any other circumstance pertaining to a game that one has the power to influence.
Why is match fixing a threat to competitive sports?Match fixing is contrary to the idea of fair play, which is fundamental to all sport, and essential for its credibility and survival. Fair play means being honest with yourself and others, and to always do your best, according good ethics and morals. If sports competitions or parts of competitions are rigged, ultimately the game becomes uninteresting, both to participate in and to watch. Match fixing eliminates some of the unpredictability associated with sports competitions.
How does match fixing happen?Match fixing can be initiated by people both within and outside the sport. In either case, an athlete is often contacted by someone that he or she finds difficult to say no to, such as a fellow team member or a relative. If the athlete is contacted by someone that is not directly involved in the sport, it is usually a person with connections to other forms of organized crime, who skillfully builds a relationship of friendship and trust with the athlete. Then comes the offer: a sum of money in exchange for manipulating the results of the game. If you end up in the hands of a match fixer, it is almost impossible to break free.What are the risks involved?Anyone who participates in match fixing or unauthorized betting can be banned from all sports for a minimum of one year and a maximum of ten years. A match fixer also risks being sentenced in court for fraud or bribery, crimes that can lead to a prison sentence. In addition to the legal ramifications, an athlete risks exposing not only him- or herself, but also friends and family, to violence or threats of violence. Being labeled a match fixer can compromise your entire career ” and it’s a label that might remain long after your athletic career is over.What does is mean to have a duty to report?A duty to report means that you have an obligation to report any knowledge of match fixing or illegal betting to the appropriate sports federation (SF). To report a suspicion, it may be a good idea to make initial contact with the appropriate person in the local association to which you belong, before contacting the federation. Tips can also be sent in anonymously via www.minmatch.se. No matter how you choose to make your report, it is important to ascertain that you have clear evidence of having fulfilled your duty to report. If you cannot demonstrate that you have fulfilled this obligation, you may risk suspension.What can you do to protect yourself and help stop match fixing?Always say no right away if someone asks you to participate in match fixing. Educate yourself about match fixing, so that you are able to recognize the signs. Minimize risk factors: financial pressures or drug problems make you an attractive target. Always report any suspicions or knowledge of match fixing or unauthorized betting. Never bet on a game or competition in the same series or tournament as you are participating in.How can regulating gambling assist in the fight against match fixing?Legalizing and regulating sports betting might not completely solve the problem of fixing, it just makes it easier to track, investigate and catch anomalies as betting patterns can be monitored. At the same time it also limits the amount of money and opportunities available with the fixers to tilt the odds in their favour thus make fixing less lucrative. The focus of the police or the regulatory authority will also shift from a preventive action to regulatory action. It will be more of monitoring a business transaction like that of SEBI monitoring the share market.Under regulated betting, bookmakers will be required to keep proper records of the transactions that they are involved with and know the identity of those with whom they are betting which is the key to ensure that sports fraud is detected and dealt with. Tracking cash exchanges among betting agents will be easier and when there’s a greater fear of getting caught which generally translates into lesser illegal activities such as fixing. In fact license holders will themselves ensure and create systems where sports fraud would be very difficult as their licenses can be revoked, or good will is affected if they are found flouting the rules. That process is possible only after legalizing and regulating betting.1. Betting-related match fixing is predominantly related to the final outcome of a match and in particular to the number of goals (winning margin). The FDS monitoring statistics reveal that the betting markets used for betting-related match fixing in football typically relate to the final score and the number of goals scored during the match. Almost all of the suspicious betting activity is detected in the most popular sports betting markets: the Match Odds market (i.e. the traditional 1X2 betting formula), the Total Goals market, and the Asian Handicap market.The fix of having a particular team losing or winning by a predefined (minimum) margin is by far the most frequently observed method of betting-related match fixing. This is because, when manipulating a match to lose by multiple goals, profits can be maximized. This manipulation can only be realistically achieved through coordinated action by several players and/or the involvement of the referee. The monitoring statistics thus overwhelmingly support the observation that betting markets with the highest degree of liquidity are most attractive for match fixers. These markets offer the best opportunity to make large financial gains with lower risks of being detected.2. 2. The claim that side bets pose significant match fixing risks lacks empirical support.? The demand from criminal organisations to exploit the side betting markets, at least those offered by European regulated sports betting operators, must be considered low. The analysis of the volume of bets placed across the different markets with sports betting exchange Betfair exemplified that the liquidity in the side betting markets is extremely low in comparison to the main betting markets. Side bets are a betting product geared toward recreational bettors. European sports betting operators often offer side bets only for higher-profile events (where the players involved would be less likely to risk losing their careers over a spot fixing operation) and ordinarily restrict the stakes that will be accepted. Even if an operator would accept large bets on e.g. which player will get a yellow card, the high stakes would arouse a great deal of suspicion. Subsequently, also the potential for individuals to exploit this type of sports bet for their own benefit is very limited. Even though the FDS does not monitor side bets for every match (nor are they available for every football match) it remains telling that suspicious betting activity has only been detected for a tiny fraction of matches (6) and that for those matches irregular betting patterns also appeared in the main markets. This does not suggest that the threat of spot fixing must be entirely discarded.62 The key take away is rather that that the focus of efforts to prevent, investigate, and sanction betting-related match fixing should lie on fraud linked to organised crime.3. 3. The claim that live betting would poses a specific or greater match fixing risk in comparison to traditional pre-match betting lacks empirical support.?/ One of the key points that emerges from the FDS monitoring statistics is that match fixers, in an attempt to spread the risk of detection and minimize loss of profit, will typically choose to take advantage of both pre-match and live betting options in the three main betting markets (Match Odds, Total Goals, and Asian Handicap). For two-thirds of the likely manipulated matches both suspicious pre-match and live betting patterns was observed and for the vast majority of matches irregular betting patterns appeared in a combination of these markets. Although live betting offers some benefits to ensure higher profits (higher betting limits and advantage can be taken of the variations of the odds) and time to detect match fixing is more limited, the statistics reveal that the inside information will typically also be used in pre-match betting.4. 4. Domestic league football rather than top-level international football is the main target of betting-related match fixing. The evidence also points to a higher number of incidents in relation to first tier league matches than second tier league matches.? International club football competitions and national team matches only represent a fraction of the total amount of football matches identified by the FDS as likely to have been manipulated. Most of the likely manipulated matches related to domestic football league fixtures (78%). The majority of these matches were played in the first tier league rather than the second tier league.