Britain “not in a position” to prevent Olympics match fixing

July 26, 2012 1:00 pm

Industry experts have expressed their concerns that match fixing and sports fraud will pose a serious threat to the London Olympics, which are due to start in a few days, since offshore operators cannot be obliged to share information with sporting bodies, the UK Gambling Commission (GC) or the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

Mike Morgan, a Senior Associate at Squire Sanders, explains “the UK Government is not in a position to compel operators that fall outside of its jurisdiction to share information”, and the Government “can scarcely be blamed for the activities of offshore operators and bookmakers that fall outside of its jurisdiction”. He points out “more has been done to combat the specter of sporting fraud in preparation of these Olympic Games than any other”.

John Cloke, an Associate at DLA Piper in London, does foresee issues since “those who would seek to manipulate events are more likely to place their bets with bookmakers in a less well-regulated market.” Andrew Danson, of K&L Gates, also stresses that “no [UK] legislation could obtain information from black market operators”.

The industry, meanwhile, has taken its own measures. Because of the “limited jurisdictional reach of the UK parliament”, as Cloke called it, a number of betting companies issued a statement of intent on 26 June, pledging to report all unusual betting patterns to the GC, to not knowingly take bets from anyone accredited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to offer a 24-hour reporting service, and suspend any bets if ordered to do so by the GC.

Morgan called the statement “a commendable initiative” and thinks it “may well act as a deterrent from any individuals who seek to defraud the betting markets by manipulating a sporting event”. However, he stresses “that not all acts of sporting fraud are intended to defraud the betting markets. The aim may simply be to ensure a higher standing for a team or an individual. In such event, betting patterns are unlikely to reveal any suspicious activity.” Danson agrees: “Unfortunately, there is no doping test for corruption.”

Last January, it was announced that the IOC, the GC, the Metropolitan Police, the UK Border Agency and a number of gambling operators will meet on a daily basis during the Games, to detect suspicious betting patterns, and to evaluate whether any athletes are intentionally underperforming for personal gain.

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