Astonishing scale of betting fraud and sport

By: Will Shand, Paris, May 15, 2014: The University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) today released the ground-breaking results of a two-year research programme into sport corruption. It includes startling figures on the scale and scope of the sport-betting market, which is identified as the primary purpose for match-fixing. The report also provides detailed analysis of current efforts to combat corruption and presents guiding principles including practical steps that can be taken by sport, governments and betting.

The responsibility of Governments

With the revelation that US$140 billion is laundered annually through sport betting, and that 80% of global sport betting is illegally transacted, and therefore invisible to regulators and investigators, the Report identifies that the clear responsibility is with countries and governments to disrupt and correct the vulnerability of sport betting to transnational organised crime.

Global problem threatens the very foundation of sport

According to the Sorbonne-ICSS Report – ‘Protecting the Integrity of Sport Competition: The Last Bet for Modern Sport’ – the manipulation of sport competition and betting threatens all countries and regions, with football and cricket the sport most under siege. Other sports affected include: tennis, basketball, badminton and motor racing.

The report states that the most manipulated competitions are at a national level but highlights that the ‘fixing’ of competition and betting is instigated at a transnational level.

Size of sport betting market

The report shows that manipulation takes place in the context of a growing sports economy, which now accounts for 2% of the global GDP, with a transnational sports-betting market of estimated wagers worth between €200 – 500 billion, more than 80% of which is illegal.

The findings reveal:

• Asia and Europe represents 85% of the total legal and illegal market

• Europe makes up 49% of the legal market, whilst Asia makes up 53% of the illegal market

• Legal sports betting currently delivers only €4 billion of official tax revenues for countries

• More than 8,000 legal operators offer sports betting – 80% are in territories with a low rate of tax and few inspections.

• The number of illegal operators is impossible even to estimate

The advent of the internet has led to an unprecedented expansion of sport betting offers, with online betting now representing 30% of the global market.

The sports betting market has been transformed into a multi-billion dollar industry with betting exchanges, live betting, betting on more low-profile events and derivative betting formulas, as well as higher return rates for bettors.

Significantly though, the evolution of the betting regulatory models hasn’t kept up, with authorities often ill-equipped to deal with the illegal and under-regulated betting, together with the related issues of manipulation and money laundering.

Chris Eaton, ICSS, Director of Sport Integrity said: “The rapid evolution of the global sports betting market has seen an increased risk of infiltration by organised crime and money laundering. Alongside this, the transformation of the nature of betting, with more complex types of betting, such as live-betting, which according to this study is the most vulnerable, has made suspect activity even harder to detect.

“Whilst monitoring systems are essential, more fundamental questions need to be addressed and this Sorbonne-ICSS Sport Integrity Report is a crucial first step in understanding the complex relationship between the sinister phenomenon of sports betting fraud and the more publically-reprehensible and visible manipulation of sporting competitions.”

Current measures to combat manipulation are insufficient

It is clear from the Report that combating manipulation requires cooperation between the sports movement, public authorities and betting operators.

The study suggests that the main limitations of current measures are: a lack of cooperation between stakeholders on a national level, insufficient cooperation on an international level, relatively young and informal stakeholder relationships and the disparate response of sports federations.

The Report suggests that prevention and education are vital, yet notes that 60% of the initiatives identified were launched in the last 18 months, with40% developed in Europe mainly in football, tennis, cricket and rugby.

Improving the governance of sports organisations is identified as another priority, as well as developing effective sports betting regulations and equipping regulatory authorities with effective powers and means. This could include the establishment of a blacklist of illegal operators agreed across borders, blocking payments and withholding licenses’ from betting operators on another country’s blacklists. The Report also recommends that sports betting operators cooperate with sports bodies through, for example, enhanced monitoring systems and the exchange of intelligence in cases of breaches of sports regulations or national legislation.

An international agreement on the manipulation of sport competition is an urgent necessity

As well as exploring prevention, the report identifies the priorities in the battle to repress corruption. It suggests that the sports movement must view sports’ disciplinary measures and criminal repression as complementary, with a need for unification and a harmonization of sports’ disciplinary rules.

Laurent Vidal, Chair of the Sorbonne-ICSS Research Programme commented: “We are proud to have worked in partnership with the ICSS on this two year project, involving over 70 experts and based on scientific and practical method and assessment. We are proud also to propose solutions. The Report reveals the startling scale of sport corruption and betting fraud and the limitations of current preventative measures. Furthermore, it is clear that current international instruments are insufficient and there is a desperate need for well-designed criminal laws specific to the manipulation of sport. An international agreement on the manipulation of sport competition, coordinated by an overarching global platform, is now an urgent necessity.”

Practical solutions

As part of its findings, the Sorbonne-ICSS Report provides Guiding Principles for governments, sports organisations, betting regulators and operators to adopt in order to combat match-fixing and illegal betting.

These recommendations include: creating a sports betting tax to finance investigations into match-fixing and illegal-betting, determination of an integrity risk assessment and management system for sports organisations and prohibiting players, coaches and administrators from betting on competitions and matches within their sport.

Mohammed Hanzab, President of the ICSS, said: “The Sorbonne-ICSS Report on Sport Integrity represents a historic moment, not only for the ICSS, but in the fight to protect and preserve the integrity of sport. With reports of match-fixing and corruption now plaguing sport on a daily basis, it is time for key organisations in sport, betting and government to step forward and work together to eradicate these problems once at for all.

“I hope that this extensive and comprehensive two-year project between the ICSS and University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne will provide a clear call to action and move forward plans for the creation of a coordinated international integrity platform. This is crucial, not only to safeguard the credibility and integrity of sport, but to ensure we protect the very morals and ethics that sport was founded upon.”

About University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

With eight centuries of excellence, the Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University is one of the leading universities in France.

Spread across 14 faculties and 5 institutes, the Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University offers a range of top-class programmes in Law, Political Science, Economics, Management as well as Arts and Social Science to over 40,000 students.

Through an established international network covering all five continents, the Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University plays a major role in training leading researchers, professors, judges, lawyers, business executives and French administration directors.

As part of multiple research and educational programmes in the field of European affairs and international relations, management, communication techniques, Paris 1’s aim is to become one of the largest research and knowledge hubs in Europe.

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