Aussie football, Knicks betting scandals are why we need regulation

Sep 17, 2013 |
By: Jon Campbell
The latest match fixing scandal - this one the biggest in Australia's history - is again bringing more attention to an international illegal betting market estimated by Interpol to be worth $500 billion a year.

That's a big number.

The biggest flood of money is often reported to being invested in south-east Asia, which is fast becoming the highly publicized Wild West (or East) of sports betting.

Soft tax regulations and the massive volume of people and wagers make it tough to regulate, not to mention the geography issue for matches that are fixed in Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

This story by Lindsay Murdoch in the Sydney Morning Herald says "one shadowy figure living in Singapore called 'the boss' and the 'capo' by his accomplices is suspected of fixing dozens of matches in Europe."

To the non sports bettor, it sounds like the kind of mysterious and intriguing story you'd email to your friends after stumbling across it online. For sports bettors who just want a safe, straight-up place to make a wager, it's the last story we need as the quest for legalized sports betting continues.

"What is apparent is that there is a clear absence of effective and collective government control on international gambling that deters match fixers and organised criminals," Chris Eaton told the Morning Herald. Eaton is a former head of security at FIFA and now director of the International Centre for Sport Security in Qatar.

Eaton's message is the most important one to come out of the Australian match fixing scandal. You can say the same thing about the recent report on the New York Knicks shaving points as a favor to their drug dealer in the 80s. These problems are happening because of a lack of regulation - they're not the reason to outlaw sports wagering.

Case in point, Mr. Murdoch reported that Indonesian bettors account for a big part of illegal betting and that several of the big betting shops are in Manila where law enforcement can be spotty. Shady betting outfits thrive in these kinds of markets.

On Tuesday, the Third Circuit Court came down with its decision to deny New Jersey its appeal in its sports betting case. The decision referenced Pete Rose and the Black Sox scandals as reasons the leagues have suffered injury.

But those who understand sports betting know scandals like those - and the ones in Australia and with the New York Knicks - are ones that were able to take place more easily because the dollars were invested through unregulated betting markets. If these bets are placed through legalized means, the wagers get reported quickly and shut down before millions can be passed along to criminal enterprises.

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