A worrying increase
The Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) reported a significant increase in suspicious betting activity during the third quarter this year, counting a total of 452 alerts.
This was a year-on-year rise of 116.3%, with 44 of the incidents unexplained and needing further investigation. The level of unexplained cases rose by 91.3% from the third quarter of 2019.
GLMS tweeted out the report on Friday:
A deeper look
Of the 44 unexplained incidents, 41 of them involve soccer. UEFA, the overseer of European soccer, received 15 reports, while 11 went to the governing body of world soccer, FIFA. The Swiss gambling regulator received 15 reports, while a dozen alerts went to other authorities.
Of the total 452 alerts that GLMS generated, 400 of them came before the games started. Ten of them arrived during play and 42 were generated after the games concluded.
Pandemic could create vulnerabilities
There were 35 “code red” alerts in total, meaning that a named source provided rumors of potential match-fixing or there were suspicious betting patterns and volumes on exchanges. The code red alerts were up almost 289% year-on-year.
Of the non-soccer alerts, basketball was highest on the list with 34, followed by tennis, ice hockey, American football, esports, and baseball.
Most of the alerts – 298 – came from Europe. There were 71 alerts in Asia, 38 in North America, 26 in South America, ten in Africa and six alerts in Oceania.
may increase the level of risk-taking and vulnerability of athletes”
GLMS president Ludovico Calvi has concerns that the threat of match-fixing could grow more than ever as a result of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the impact of the crisis “may increase the level of risk-taking and vulnerability of athletes and sport stakeholders.”
Sports leagues and governing bodies across the world are fighting match-fixing. Those at the lower levels of a sport are particularly at risk because lower player salaries increase the financial incentives.
According to a recent Europol report, crime groups make about €120m ($141.9m) every year from match-fixing in the region.
Last month, FIFA endorsed a new phone app that allows players to anonymously report if someone approaches them about match-fixing. This anonymous approach can help bypass a player’s concerns about their personal safety if they attach their name to the allegation.
Authorities in Sweden are also looking to clamp down on match-fixing. The country’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, is introducing new restrictions on betting from January 1, 2021 to combat the practice. This includes no longer allowing betting markets on lower league games or for rules violations, such as yellow cards or penalties.