Betting-related corruption a major threat to Games, says IOC
will have unit dedicated to tackling illegal gambling
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has signed an
information-sharing agreement with Betfair, the largest online betting
exchange, as part of an attempt to clamp down on the threat of corruption ahead
of the London 2012 Games. Betfair has similar memorandums of understanding with
other governing bodies, laying out a framework for sharing information on
suspect betting patterns and other integrity issues.
The IOC president
Jacques Rogge and the sports minister Hugh Robertson have both warned that the
potential for betting-related corruption is a major threat to the success of
the Games. The IOC has a unit dedicated to tracking suspicious betting patterns
and the government has amended the Gambling Act to allow the UK watchdog the
Gambling Commission to share information with the Lausanne-based international
Betfair is based offshore and therefore not licensed by
the Gambling Commission, but the company points to its agreements with major
governing bodies as evidence of its commitment to clamping down on corruption.
Betfair has a dedicated integrity team, aided by specialist software, that
tracks every bet placed and laid on the site from its London headquarters.
The Metropolitan police will also have a specialist unit dedicated to
the issue. Betfair, like other major bookmakers, will be offering a market on
every gold medal that is being competed for at the Games.
"The interests of sports governing bodies, like
the IOC, and Betfair are completely aligned in wanting to ensure consumers can
bet on sporting events in a transparent and secure manner," said Martin
Cruddace, Betfair's chief legal and regulatory affairs officer. "If we are to
protect the sports we all love then we must continue to work openly and
co-operatively, and today's agreement is a clear example of just that."
But although working with legal bookmakers to monitor suspect bets is
seen as an important plank of the IOC's strategy, the largest threat to the
integrity of the Games is more likely to come from the huge illegal betting
markets in east Asia.
Rogge told the Guardian last year that
betting-related corruption was now as big a threat to the integrity of sport as
doping. "It is a world problem and it is a very pernicious problem. With the
introduction of broadband, you can bet worldwide," he said. "The danger is that
from illegal betting comes match-fixing and you see more and more attempts to
manipulate matches. It is as dangerous as doping for the credibility of sport.
It's only the beginning of a huge battle."
The rapid pace of
technological change that has facilitated a global market, huge illegal betting
markets in Asia, and the rewards on offer for those tempted to cheat, have
combined to make the threat of match-fixing and betting corruption a huge issue
for sports governing bodies.
Government legislation to require offshore
bookmakers to register with the Gambling Commission and legally require them to
share information on suspect bets is not likely to be in place before the