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A Positive Result of Legalized Sports Betting is Solution for Betting Corruption and Match Fixing

A Positive Result of Legalized Sports Betting is Solution for Betting Corruption and Match Fixing

March 26, 2024

A Positive Result of Legalized Sports Betting is Solution for Betting Corruption and Match Fixing

By: Sara Dalsheim

This month, Sportradar released its “Betting Corruption and Match-Fixing Report” (the “Report”) from the company’s Integrity Services Division[1] The Report covered approximately 850,000 sporting events and matches across 70 sports. Sportradar identified a total of 1,329 suspicious matches in 2023, in 11 sports in 105 countries. This represented a marginal increase over the 1,212 suspicious matches Sportradar detected in 2022. 99.5% of sporting events displayed no suspicious betting activity, and no single sport exhibited a suspicious match ratio greater than 1%. Soccer was found to be the most affected sport with 880 matches deemed suspicious. Only 35 of the matches exhibiting suspicious betting activity detected in 2023 occurred in North America.

We recently had the privilege to sit down with Jill Exley, the Integrity Partnerships Director of North America for Sportradar, to discuss the Report and Sportradar’s Integrity Services department’s work in more detail. The key component of Sportradar’s ability to detect integrity issues starts with their Universal Fraud Detection System (“UFDS”) and their expert analysis personnel. The UFDS utilizes AI technology to detect deviations in sports wagering lines; deviations of a certain amount will automatically trigger deeper analysis of the match/event. Depending on the severity of the deviations, the UFDS will trigger alerts that are classified as Level 1 or Level 2. Sportradar’s team of sports integrity analysts reviews the alerts and if necessary, they will dissect online channels for potential leaks of information on a player or event (e.g., injury reports, weather conditions, etc.) and watch how betting lines may adjust.  Sportradar Integrity Services has also partnered with more than 180 sports leagues around the world and uses these partnerships to strengthen their integrity monitoring. Specifically, Sportradar works with teams and leagues to get insights and sporting data to monitor what rumors may skew betting markets.

The Report revealed that, despite legalized sports betting growing at a rapid pace, match-fixing did not substantially increase in the past year. Contrary to what some may think, the expansion of legalized sports betting has not had significant impacts on the integrity of competitions, particularly in North America. In fact, very few cases deemed suspicious were found in jurisdictions with regulated sports wagering.

Exley pointed out that the lack of suspicious betting activity in regulated jurisdictions can be attributed to strict guidelines and procedures implemented by state regulators and followed by operators in each state. A key advantage of the regulated market is that Sportsbooks are required to report any potential or actual integrity issues and share their findings with other industry stakeholders. Absent of legalized sports betting, there were not defined reporting requirements in place.

In addition to monitoring global betting markets for suspicious activity, Sportradar Integrity Services provides education and training for athletes and league personnel. The training material includes informing key stakeholders of what they can and cannot do with regards to betting, how Sportradar identifies suspicious betting, and how to report instances in which individuals have been approached to fix an event. Sportradar Integrity Services also consults and assists leagues on their internal betting and integrity policies, including investigative practices and reporting mechanisms to help protect the sport from corruption.

Currently, Sportradar Integrity Services monitors all betting-relevant collegiate sporting events in the U.S. While some college sports are not offered for betting to the same extent as their professional counterparts, there is significant betting interest on collegiate athletics both within the U.S. and globally. With fewer resources available in collegiate sports, colleges face challenges when implementing training efforts to prepare student-athletes on handling approaches from potential bad actors.

The addition of Name, Image, and Likeness (“NIL”) deals for college athletes provides an added layer of protection from an integrity perspective as they allow student-athletes to earn money while in college. Typically, athletes with low pay are more susceptible to manipulation, and more vulnerable to fix a match. This phenomenon is present throughout global soccer – which is by far the most popular sport in the world for wagering – as many lower-tier leagues are offered for betting. In these leagues, players do not receive significant compensation and are therefore more likely to be open to approaches from fixers who offer large sums of money.

Match fixing has occurred for decades, but in a legalized and regulated market all sports wagering industry stakeholders can effectively work together on educational tools and reporting mechanisms to help increase integrity in sports.

[1] Found at: https://goto.sportradar.com/l/533382/2024-03-01/7p9m9d/533382/170929916597HjWoHQ/Betting_Corruption_and_Match_Fixing_in_2023.pdf.

Sara Dalsheim

Sara Dalsheim

Sara Dalsheim’s life-long passion for sports and the law fuels her commitment to assisting all players in the sports betting industry, whether in navigating the ever-evolving regulatory and licensing issues inherent in this burgeoning industry or negotiating operations and sponsorship agreements. Sara advises clients throughout the sports betting and gaming ecosystem on how to structure business partnerships that minimize liability and maximize revenues.

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