The globalisation of sport has seen sports betting become a near AUS$500 billion dollar a year industry. With the help of the internet and smart phones, sports betting is now at our fingertips anywhere, and at anytime. With the increase in money flowing into sports betting, comes the increased risk of match fixing and illegal betting. This is however not a new phenomenon. in 1919 the Chicago White Sox baseball team admitted to throwing the World Series for cash (and in the case of one player, he traded for free pizza), and in the 1960’s an NFL Most Valuable Player from the Green Bay Packers was caught betting on his own matches – sometimes against himself.
More recently in Australia, the Australian Open was thrown into turmoil by a report published on popular BuzzFeed website making allegations that tennis authorities had failed to investigate match fixing by up to 15 players, including on Grand Slam Winner. During the resulting media frenzy several players, including some Australians, came out saying they been approached, at times directly and at times via social media about fixing matches. Australian player Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty to intentionally losing a match in 2013 and informing bettors of his plans in advance of matches. The professional associations in tennis have now established strong anti-corruption programs with strict rules around players, officials and indeed spectator activities at major tennis tournaments around the world.
And now, the New South Wales Organised Crime Squad is investigating matches in the National Rugby League (NRL) with allegations that a small number of players from one club, have links to organised crime and fixing matches.
With the ability of the public to bet so widely on major sporting competitions, and across so many markets, the inherent risks from match fixing will in our view continue to grow. .
The rapid change in technology, the growth in global sports betting market and advertising income derived from sports betting agencies, the influence of sports betting will continue to have a strong influence over sports globally for many years to come; and with it – many threats to the integrity of the game.