Suspected efforts by gamblers trying to fix sports matches were on the decline in 2019, according to the global body tasked with monitoring for such chicanery.
On Wednesday, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) issued its annual report on the number of suspicious alerts it issued regarding possible attempts at match-fixing. The IBIA’s members include many of the global betting industry’s major players, who supply the data over which the IBIA keeps a close eye.
The IBIA (formerly known as ESSA) reported 45 suspicious alerts in the final quarter of 2019, bringing the full-year total to 183, a 31% decline from 2018’s total. Tennis continued to account for the bulk of alerts with 101, although this was down 43% from 2018. Football ranked second on the number of alerts with 49, while no other sport got out of single-digit territory.
A majority (52%) of 2019’s alerts came from outside Europe, seven points higher than the year before. Europe still scored highest on individual number of alerts (87), followed by Asia (52) and Africa (15), while North and South America tied with 13 alerts apiece.
IBIA CEO Khalid Ali celebrated 2019’s alert decline, but insisted “there remains a clear threat from criminals intent on manipulating sport,” which has “an impact on the reputation and financial well-being of sports and reputable betting operators alike.”
Given the overwrought tone of most betting stories in the media these days – particularly in the UK – it’s worth remembering that bookmakers are the main source by which efforts to mess with match integrity are uncovered. Whatever intangible damage sports bodies, teams and fans might endure, bookmakers are the ones who actually pay the price when someone tries to game the system.
Both the industry and the IBIA weren’t likely celebrating the news earlier this month of the release from prison of Dan Tan, a notorious fixer who, along with his equally infamous partner Wilson Raj Perumal, corrupted sports matches all over the world. Tan spent over six years behind bars in Singapore and is currently out on parole wearing an ankle bracelet.