You have no idea how disappointed I am in the latest scandal to hit International cricket. Not because I’m a huge cricket fan. Actually, it is one of the few sports I can take or leave. No, I’m disappointed because the inevitable naysayers start pointing fingers in the direction of the legal and legitimate betting operations that are actually doing more to clean up sport than most people imagine.
My old boss likes to use a tidy analogy on the subject; that blaming the gambling industry for corruption in sport is a bit like holding Boots (the chemist) responsible for the illegal trade in cocaine. I think he makes a very good point.
I was told last year by someone who knows these things that every time India play a test match around $1bn is gambled illegally in India. I read another estimate today written a few years ago, putting the figure closer to $25bn a year even back then.
No wonder with numbers like that that criminal syndicates control these illegal gambling operations, and that they can afford to make it worth their while to ensure they always have an edge when it comes to predicting the outcome of a match, or indeed the outcome of small, tactical ‘spot’ bets during a match.
Such opportunities are dramatically reduced where gambling is properly controlled, licensed and regulated. Where gambling companies only accept bets from customers who they know. Where gambling companies enter into agreements with sporting authorities to voluntarily share information and intelligence about suspicious betting patterns and who is behind them.
Only online betting creates this transparency and provides a level playing field for every customer. Like stock exchanges across the globe know full well, integrity of the markets is everything. Without it, customer confidence is eroded and liquidity will eventually dry up. In fact I’m surprised that traditional bookmakers are allowed to accept over the counter bets from people who walk in off the street without knowing who these people are, but that’s another story.
Match fixing allegations go back to time immemorial, and it is inevitable that pressure will be brought to bear on individuals to prostitute themselves and their sport either through fear or greed, until such time as governments step up to the mark and properly regulate the activity and thereby cut out the criminals currently profiteering from their inertia.