16 May 2014

'Millions laundered' in sports betting

8:13 am on 16 May 2014

Criminals are using betting on sports events to launder $US140 billion each year, according to a report from the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

Soccer and cricket were identified as the sports most threatened by criminals seeking to rig the gambling market but tennis, basketball, motor racing and badminton were also affected.

The report identified soccer and cricket as most at risk from those seeking to rig the gambling market.

The report identified soccer and cricket as most at risk from those seeking to rig the gambling market. Photo: AFP

The report was compiled by the Qatar-based ICSS think-tank and the Sorbonne university in Paris and was based on two years of research.

It said 80 percent of global sports betting was being carried out on illegal markets, placing it beyond the reach of regulators and investigators.

According to the report, 53 percent of the illegal betting comes from Asia, while 49 percent of the legal market is based in Europe.

A number of soccer leagues have been hit by match-fixing scandals in recent years and three Pakistani cricketers were jailed for a plot to deliberately bowl no balls during a test match against England at Lord's in 2010.

Technology and live television have transformed the sports betting market in recent years, allowing viewers to bet on a wider range of events and gamble in real time as a match progresses.

Several territories were identified as "sports betting havens", with England topping the list with 114 online betting licences granted, ahead of Malta (86).

"The rapid evolution of the global sports betting market has seen an increased risk of infiltration by organised crime and money laundering," said the ICSS's Chris Eaton.

Mr Eaton, a former head of security at FIFA, said the changes have made suspect betting patterns harder to spot.

"The problem is getting worse," Mohammed Hanzab, president of the ICSS, said in his opening speech at the Sorbonne on Thursday.

"If we do nothing sport will become to be seen as an arena of corruption."

Among solutions, the report recommended a sports betting tax to finance investigations into match-fixing and closer cooperation between betting companies and sporting bodies.