Lack of cooperation hinders efforts to halt match fixing

Regulators, operators and sports bodies need to improve international cooperation if they are effectively to tackle match fixing, which experts say is increasingly centred on Asia.

The global legal and illegal betting industry is estimated by some experts to be worth as much as $2 trillion a year and Asia accounts for the lion’s share of this market. Match fixing scandals, from cricket in India to football in Malaysia have plagued sports in the region and led to growing calls for efforts to be stepped up to tackle the problem.

Late last year, Chris Eaton, an independent industry consultant and Fifa’s former security chief, ruffled feathers in the region, by saying Malaysia had overtaken Singapore as Southeast Asia’s match fixing hub.

“The general consensus is that match fixing is big, global and well organized and as such needs a big, global and well-organized approach and no one regulator is going to be able to fix it,” Susan O’Leary – Director of eCommerce, States of Alderney, said at the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila.

The first session of the final day of the three-day event was dedicated to the regulation of sports betting and how to fix match fixing was central to the debate.

“No one regulator is going to be able to fix it, no one government is going to be able to fix it and no sports association is going to be able to fix it. It’s all about cooperation and being involved in this international network,” O’Leary added.  

Experts on the panel stressed the need for an international network dedicated to information sharing, with memorandums of understanding between the various interested parties.

“There’s no panacea, there is no one answer, it’s a comprehensive response that’s needed. Cooperation is pivotal,” said Paul Newson, Deputy Secretary Liquor, Gaming & Emergency Management in New South Wales.

“Where a domestic regulator is seeking information against an offshore operator, it’s just critical that there are sufficient memorandum of understandings or agreements in place. Perhaps at the moment that’s not as robust or mature as it could be.”

He pointed to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act under which there has been no prosecutions since 2001, despite numerous complaints to police.

From an industry perspective, iGaming Consultant Jesper Jensen, called for good bookmaking practices, with restrictions in place to limit bet sizes and types on certain markets.

He pointed out that currently bookmakers are offering a product on just about every match on the planet, but some areas of sports where pay levels are not high are too vulnerable to manipulation to allow a free for all.

“If you are operating under 17 football, those guys are not paid. If someone comes and bribes them it will most likely happen so you have to make sure whoever is offering the products has reasonable limits. That means you can’t bet big. You need to keep it very low,” he told the conference.

“You can’t say you can’t offer it because someone else will and they will take your business, so there has to be a balance.”