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Illegal sports gambling worth more than $140 billion

Mon, May 19, 4:42pm by Dominic Ciconte

Soccer bettingA FRENCH study ahead of the 2014 Brazil World Cup has found that illegal sports betting is worth an incredible $140 billion globally per year.

According to the findings, a number of sports, but mainly Soccer and cricket, are being used to launder money by crime syndicates. More than 80 per cent of sport betting around the globe is done illegally and becomes invisble to regulators and investigators.

The report, coming from the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), involved more than 70 international experts.

The problems are most wide-spread where betting on sport is illegal – which is not an issue in Australia. The Asian region was found to cater for 53 per cent of the illegal betting world-wide.

ICSS Sport Integrity director Chris Eaton spoke to Reuters following the report, saying that the focus of his organisation could shift from match-fixing to betting fraud.

“We have been focusing at least for the last five years on match fixing but we need to shift the focus on the cause, which is betting fraud and the fact is almost all betting markets are opaque, not necessarily illegal but they’re not properly regulated,” Eaton said.

“Because it happens in secret it’s easy for criminals to manipulate sport betting.

“Match fixing is a facilitating crime for sport betting, not the reverse, so the important causing crime here is betting fraud,” said Eaton in an interview at the Sorbonne University where a Sport Integrity Forum was being held on Thursday.

The news has caused a stir before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where several billion dollars is expected to be wagered in the biggest sporting and gambling event of the year.

It has also followed news that former New Zealand test player Lou Vincent confessed to match-fixing in 20/20 cricket tournaments in India and around the world.

“Cricket is the second most targeted sport by organised crime without a doubt,” said Eaton.

“The Indian betting market is even more opaque than the Chinese market, it operates in a wholly different way than the Chinese betting market.”

Sports betting in India is confined to just horse racing and gambling is legal in only a couple of states.

Despite that, the country is home to a huge illegal sports betting market, prompting calls for legalisation so that the damage can be controlled.

“My point is that by attacking the effect of betting fraud, match fixing, you are only papering over the problem,” Eaton explained.

“Governments have a responsibility. Sport cannot clean itself because there is no regulatory body for sport betting, only governments can do that.”

The fight has to be global because “sport betting is global, sport is global, organised crime is global,” Eaton added.

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