Ever since man could reason, there have been those who are willing to try to game the system. This is the reason so much emphasis is placed on security and protection in the financial industry. It’s a problem that will never go away, but new methods of countering those illicit efforts are always being introduced.
The sports gambling industry has had to deal with its share of scams and match-fixing and a new report just released by the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) shows that there is still work to be done. Overall, however, the amount of illicit activity isn’t as significant as some might believe, even if Europe seems to be trending upward, instead of downward.
Suspicious Activity Remains Highest in Europe
The GLMS keeps track of the number and types of suspicious gambling reports that it receives from its sports partners and its report for 2020 showed a 3.2% increase in suspicious reports from the 2019 level. Europe was the center of most, accounting for over three-fourths of the alerts submitted. For the first quarter of this year, Europe ranked first once again, but this shouldn’t be surprising. In addition to having a much large overall population, sports gambling has also been legalized in Europe for much longer.
Specifically, there were 323 alerts for the quarter, of which 160 originated in Europe. Asia was in second place, just like it was for 2020, with 66, and South America had 58 alerts. North America followed at 14, with Africa and Oceania generating eight and seven, respectively. Ten alerts were designated as “international,” with no additional information provided.
As has been the trend with the GLMS reports, soccer, with its 94 warnings, is still the prevailing sport that receives the most suspicious activity alerts. Tennis, which has had an international problem surrounding match-fixing at lower levels in a number of countries, ranked high on the list, as well, but not as high as basketball, which had 30 warnings. Also making the list were eSports, ice hockey, volleyball, and others.
Sports Gambling Integrity Remains Intact
The GLMS report, as well as the integrity report provided by the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), are instrumental in helping sports authorities, sports gambling operators and even lawmakers work at keeping the sports gambling industry clean. There is no doubt that the information they provide is vital for the industry; however, the reports also show something important. The concept of there being a huge sports gambling integrity problem isn’t a problem. It would be hard to argue a case of suspected widespread sports gambling issues when, across a three-month period, the GLMS only had 323 alerts for the tens of thousands of sports events that were held during that period.
Alleviating more of the potential concern is the breakdown of the alerts. 188 were “green,” which means they were relatively tame, related to things such as team news, wrong starting prices, or other innocuous errors. 67 alerts were yellow – unexplainable odds changes, rumors of match-fixing, questions over tournament structures, etc. Only 13 of the alerts were red. These are tied to more verifiable claims of match-fixing and questionable odds changes. While it’s true that regulators and watchdogs can’t let their guard down, this would hardly be able to be classified as an indication of widespread sports gambling integrity issues.