May 16, 2014 (ISN) – Organised crime networks are using sport betting to launder $140 billion (£83 billion/€102 billion) each year, a new report released today has revealed.

The University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) two-year research programme into sport corruption, said 80 per cent of global sport betting is illegally transacted – and therefore invisible to regulators and investigators, while it identified football and cricket as the sports most targeted by criminals.

Tennis, basketball, badminton and motor racing are also said to be affected.

“The rapid evolution of the global sports betting market has seen an increased risk of infiltration by organised crime and money laundering,” Chris Eaton, the ICSS’ director of sport integrity, explained.

“Alongside this, the transformation of the nature of betting, with more complex types of betting, such as live-betting, which according to this study is the most vulnerable, has made suspect activity even harder to detect.”

The report, which said that Asia makes up 53 per cent of the illegal sports betting market, insists it is up to Governments to tackle sport corruption and claims that current measures to combat manipulation are insufficient.

It also said it is impossible to estimate the number of illegal operators and explained that although the advent of the internet has led to an “unprecedented expansion” of sport betting possibilities, it has not been matched by up to date betting regulatory models.

Football and cricket were identified by the report as the sports most targeted by criminals ©Getty Images
Football and cricket were identified by the report as the sports most targeted by criminals ©Getty Images

The Sorbonne-ICSS report said prevention and education are “vital”, and highlighted a number of measures that Governments, sports organisations, betting regulators and operators could adopt to help combat match-fixing and illegal betting.

They include the introduction of a sports betting tax to finance investigations, and prohibiting players, coaches and administrators from betting on competitions and matches within their sport.

Improving the governance of sports organisations was also identified as another priority.

“With reports of match-fixing and corruption now plaguing sport on a daily basis, it is time for key organisations in sport, betting and Government to step forward and work together to eradicate these problems once at for all,” Mohammed Hanzab, President of the ICSS, said.

“I hope that this extensive and comprehensive two-year project between the ICSS and University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne will provide a clear call to action and move forward plans for the creation of a coordinated international integrity platform.

“This is crucial, not only to safeguard the credibility and integrity of sport, but to ensure we protect the very morals and ethics that sport was founded upon.”

The executive summary and guiding principles of the “Protecting the Integrity of Sport Competition: The Last Bet for Modern Sport” report are available here