The biggest setback to the close relationship between sports and betting has come in the form of illegal sports betting. Unfortunately the illegal sports betting industry has grown not only in revenue, but also in reach, and this has recently brought about concerns over how the growth of this illegal industry could affect the outcome of sporting events. As allegations of match-fixing across various sports rears its ugly head on a frequent basis, sporting bodies and lawmakers are looking at ways to counter this illegal sector’s growing strength.
How Prevalent is Illegal Sports Betting?
The illegal sports betting industry is best described as the legal sports betting industries evil twin, as both are vying for top position in terms of revenue. Unfortunately for lawmakers and sporting bodies, the illegal sports betting industry is consistently growing, and many reports estimate that the sector could be worth as much as $500 billion per year. To put that figure into perspective, that’s 50 times the annual profit of Toyota – the world’s largest car manufacturer.
What’s the Attraction of Illegal Sports Betting?
There are various reasons behind illegal sports betting, but in most cases it’s a combination of factors which leads to punters turning to these methods. Some of the reasons which have been uncovered:
- An outright ban on sports betting
- Illegal syndicates often offer better odds
- Social stigma also plays a role, especially in countries which have bans on online sports betting
How Does the Illegal Betting Industry Work?
The illegal sports betting industry is highly secretive and consists of a complex network where the bookies are just the tip of the iceberg. The bookies get the odds, for example on motor racing bets, from people above them and then they take the bets and cash, and make payments depending on the outcome of the wager.
Above the bookies are the people who operate a group of bookies and they may operate in another state, or even a different country, and they get the odds from a completely different set of people. The industry is designed in this way, so that no set of individuals knows too much about the business as a whole, making it easier to protect their illegal activities.
What Makes It Illegal?
There is no concrete definition of illegal sports betting as it morphs from country to country depending on individual gambling laws. For example, in Singapore it’s legal to place a bet at a ‘Singapore pools’ shop, but online betting is completely illegal and banned. In India, any type of sports betting is banned and considered illegal. While the definition differs, a common denominator is that most countries consider placing a bet with an unlicensed bookmaker to be illegal.
Concerns Regarding Illegal Sports Betting
There are various concerns over the growing illegal sports betting industry.
- All transactions are unaccounted for which costs countries hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
- Affects the revenues of legal bookmakers as the better odds offered by illegal bookies are more attractive.
- Biggest concern is the undeniable connection between illegal sports betting and match-fixing.
These syndicates use their financial power to influence players or teams to perform in such a way that achieves a pre-determined result. The bookies, thanks to their prior knowledge of the final outcome, can then skew the odds to guarantee maximum profits.
Risks to Punters
Unfortunately, punters are at the biggest risk when it comes to making use of illegal sports betting as there are no legal recourses available to them should anything go wrong.