News / USA

Worldwide Sports Betting Draws Big Bucks

Proposition bets (R) for Super Bowl XLV are posted at the race and sports book in the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 27, 2011
Proposition bets (R) for Super Bowl XLV are posted at the race and sports book in the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 27, 2011
Next month’s World Cup in Brazil will not only bring worldwide cheering.
 
It’s also bound to set off a global betting frenzy – one that now involves international sports of most every kind.
 
“Taking the illegal [gambling] market, the under-regulated grey market, and the totally legal market together, it’s really close to a trillion dollars [U.S.] annually gambled on sports today,” said Chris Eaton, director of sports integrity for from the International Center for Sport Security in Qatar and the Sorbonne in Paris.
 
Analysts say that a billion dollars was bet worldwide on the 2010 World Cup title match.

Watch video report:
 
New Report: Sports Gambling Is Conduit for Criminal Activityi
X
Jeffrey Young
May 23, 2014 7:38 PM
Gambling on sports events is global, and it’s massive. A new report on the size and impact of sports gambling notes how criminal elements are well entrenched, and using sports to launder money and carry on other illicit activities. VOA’s Jeffrey Young has details.

And, the 2014 playoffs are expected to generate a “handle” [total amount wagered] even higher than that.
 
Eaton said the betting action on just one football league alone – Britain’s Premiere League – comes to more than a billion dollars a year.
 
Huge quantities of money attract criminal elements.  So it is with sports wagering.
 
A Sports Security report says that sports betting is used worldwide by organized crime syndicates to launder some $140 billion a year.
 
It also says 80 percent of the total global sports wagering activity is illegal.
 
The rise of the Internet over the past 20 years has added even more gambling activity, according to the report, which says the web now handles 30 percent of the action.
 
Instead of having to seek out illegal bookmakers or go to legitimate betting shops, such as Britain’s Ladbrokes and William Hill, bettors only need a computer and a credit card. 
 
Britain, according to the study, has the greatest number of online gambling licenses – 114 operations. Malta was second, with 86.
 
Along with making wagering easy, the Internet has enabled criminal elements to set up global betting operations that siphon off and send profits to anonymous bank accounts in lax-regulated countries.
 
The report also says legal sports betting is only adding about $6 billion to national tax coffers globally, a tiny fraction of the total take.
 
The ICSS-Sorbonne report says Asia accounts for 53 percent of the world’s illegal gambling, largely because most East Asian countries do not allow legal wagering.
 
That’s why casinos in places such as Macao attract huge numbers of bettors from mainland China.
 
And, it turns out that illicit betting shops – “bookmakers” -  and legal betting houses are linked together in a form of “risk management” that is similar to what is done in the insurance industry, where big firms backstop the smaller ones.
 
“So, you’ve got dense networks of street bookmakers throughout countries like China and Vietnam,” said David Forrest, a gambling analyst at the University of Salford in Britain.
 
“And those small guys tend to take the stake [the money bet] and quickly pass it on up a chain so they don’t handle the risk themselves,” he said. “And at the top of this chain lie legal bookmakers, who are registered in the Philippines - the five biggest bookmakers in the world.”
 
The Philippines is an international wagering hub because the regulatory environment in that country is relatively weak.
 
Huge amounts of cash can move in and out without much difficulty, analysts say.
 
Illegal gambling has taken on some of the practices of Wall Street where hedge fund traders may take positions both for and against a particular stock or security to help ensure that they win regardless of the outcome. 
 
“Illegal bookmakers will collect their bets,” said University of South Florida sports betting analyst Richard Borghesi, “and if they wind up with a negative position on one side or the other, they will lay off [offset] their risk by betting on the opposite teams in the legalized gambling market.”
 
Borghesi said legal sports betting in Nevada and other locations has made such “hedging” relatively easy.
 
But skimming cash from “the handle” and other illicit activities are not the only fraud paths.
 
Analysts Forrest cites a scam that took place in January 2012 that created a fictitious match between Turkmenistan and the Maldives.
 
The operators posted advertisements for the game to attract bettors, collected cash, and then created a phony “play-by-play broadcast” of the game so gamblers could follow the action.
 
The final score – Turkmenistan won by 3-2 – was an outcome designed to give the perpetrators the biggest possible take.
 
The ICSS-Sorbonne study says the sports gambling industry needs to develop international reporting and accountability systems much like those that have been established in recent decades in the global financial markets. 
 
“We need the same sort of cooperative model operating in the gambling side and the bookmaking side of international sports,” said the ICSS’ Eaton. “So we can see exactly who was transacting what – and how – so you can pick [identify] the anomalies.”

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More