Investigation launched into gambling threat

Sports bodies have commissioned an academic risk assessment of the threat gambling poses to the integrity of their competitions. Football, cricket, tennis and both codes of rugby have linked up with the Central Council for Physical Recreation to engage researchers from the University of Salford’s centre for the study of gambling. They will examine how betting markets might offer opportunities for corruption.

The International Cricket Council has concerns over easily manipulated markets such as spreads on the number of times a wicketkeeper might remove the bails during an innings, the number of players wearing sunglasses or which end a team might first bowl from. It is envisaged by the researchers that the Gambling Commission might forbid such markets being offered in the UK.

The sports fear that sponsorship and commercial revenues could be at risk with each allegation of a fixed result and will use the data as the basis for costing their anti-corruption efforts.

The British Horseracing Authority spends GBP 2m a year on tackling corruption in racing alone. The BHA is already offering its integrity team’s expertise to other UK sports and the combined governing bodies of tennis, which has recently suffered a slew of allegations about corrupt matches, believe global policing measures might cost it a similar sum.

The sports hope to secure funding from bookmakers and have the support of the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe. „Preventative action must be taken to protect sport,“ said Sutcliffe. „That is why I urge the betting industry to work together with the sports bodies on planned research to identify the integrity risks associated with different sports so that the betting cheats can be tackled head on.“