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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.