PtG Article 08.11.2005

Match fixing – an old practice with new profitability

Match fixing has been around as long as sport itself and the cost of fixing a match is not significantly greater today than it was 90 years ago. What is different is that has become much easier to profit by betting on a loser.

Warwick Bartlett, Director of Global Gaming and Betting Consultants, believes that match and race fixing is a serious problem and that sport’s governing bodies are only now fully waking up to the presence of irregular betting patterns. But match fixing is not a new phenomenon, he pointed out in a session on match fixing at the Play the Game conference.

The rules of complicated games such as cricket, he pointed out, were devised with betting in mind.  Bartlett also referred to baseball’s famous fixed World Series of 1916, as well as recent scandals in European football and British horse racing. He surprised many by pointing out that match fixing is not necessarily more common today than it was 90 years ago.

However, he admitted that today’s betting exchanges makes the act of profiting by betting on a loser much easier and pointed to actions, which are being taken to combat abuse of the system.

The Wimbledon tennis tournament, for example, has agreed a deal with the Betting Exchange Betfair to receive advance warning of any suspicious betting patterns. Another idea currently being discussed is a so-called ‘white list’ in which only certain, approved gambling websites are awarded a licence to operate.

Tjeerd Veenstra of the Netherlands ‘Lotto’ lottery and Chairman of the European Lotteries Working Group also spoke in the session.

He argued that greater regulation and a halt to the spread of private gaming companies is the best way forward for the industry. He stated that he was confident that a forthcoming EU Commission proposal for a directive on services would exclude gambling when it is presented for a plenary vote in January 2006.

Match fixing is an old practice, not a new phenomenon according to Warwick Bartlett. But today it has become far more profitable to play on a loser than it used to be.


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