The Asser Institute, the Holland-based institute for private and public international law, international commercial arbitration and European law, has for the first time undertaken an empirical study of key statistics from specialist provider Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS), a five-year dataset of football matches worldwide which the FDS identified as likely to have been targeted by match fixers.
Asser Institute's study must be place in the context of numerous media reports and interested stakeholders claiming that certain types of sports bets significantly increase the risks of match-fixing occurring. These concerns often surface in policy discussions at both the national and European level, with calls frequently made to prohibit the supply of “risky” sports bets as a means to preserve the integrity of sports competitions.
The institute examined Sportradar’s information between May 2009 and November 2014, covering a total of 1,468 matches worldwide that it considered highly suspicious and likely to have been targeted for betting-related match-fixing. In 38 per cent of the cases – 551 matches – the irregular betting activity prompted bookmakers to either partially or completely remove the betting offer.
The report's key points:
- Of all the key markets, almost all suspicious betting patterns were observed in the main betting markets (including Match Odds and Total Goals) and the Asian Handicap market.
- It appears that match-fixers mostly take advantage of highly liquid betting markets, which all relate to the final outcome of a match.
- In most cases, more than one of the main betting markets was exploited and irregular betting patterns were detected both in pre-match and live betting.
- The evidence does not support the claim that live betting, by its very nature, would significantly encourage manipulation in comparison to pre-match betting.
- For only six matches suspicious betting was detected in side betting markets. This represents a mere 0.4 per cent of the 1,468 likely manipulated matches.
- The prevalence of suspicious betting in the Handicap markets, and in particular Asian Handicap markets, clearly reflects the fact that the Asian betting markets (where these types of bets are immensely popular) account for the majority of illicit funds being bet on football.
- Over 70 per cent of football betting turnover is recorded with Asian bookmakers who allow bets to be placed anonymously and without betting limits, favoured by fixers. Whereas, European regulated bookmakers restrict stakes and disclose client details to law enforcement bodies.
- The study found no correlations between live betting or side betting and possible instances of betting-related match fixing in football that would justify a prohibition of these bet types.