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Local Aussie sports targeted by offshore gambling companies

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INTERNATIONAL gambling sites are collating play-by-play data on suburban basketball and football games around Australia in a move that experts believe could open the door for match-fixing.

Sportradar, a company that monitors match-fixing for FIFA, is using university students to collect data from amateur, semi-professional and low-level sports in order to potentially frame multiple betting markets for a number of online agencies.

The scouts feed data into a call centre, where it’s distributed to international gambling websites. The major concern is that the use of the data by those international gambling organisations may lead other parties to encourage match-fixing on local Australian games.

Scott Boucher, administrator for Tasmania’s Southern Basketball League, one amateur competition targeted by scouts, says players were incredulous to the fact that odds were available on their matches.

“They don’t believe that someone would come along just to set up gambling on their games,” he said.

Boucher believes the implications are self-evident at a local level.

“I could see people backing themselves to lose when the odds were right, or not turning up to play, other people outside getting involved and coercing people to throw matches,” Boucher said.

“Wherever money’s involved, there’s always someone with an extra interest.”

Following the revelations that online agencies are collating data on local sports, South Australian Senator and outspoken anti-gambling advocate Nick Xenophon has called for tougher laws to be introduced to eradicate wagering at a local level.

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“The potential for corrupting those sporting codes, the potential for compromising players and officials is just too great,” Senator Xenophon said.

“We can’t let our amateur sporting codes, our amateur games, be infected with gambling in this way.”

Xenophon believes the problem is an insidious one and has the potential to filter right down to children’s sport.

“I mean, it seems that these people have no shame. It wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to target an under-10 footy team somewhere in the country sooner rather than later, because right now, there are no checks, no controls, on the way these jokers operate.”

However, the company who has been employed to carry out the data collection sees it differently.

Managing director of strategy and integrity Andreas Krannich defended the use of local scouts at games, insisting that the markets on these events would exist irrespective of their services being utilised.

“Sending scouts [to] matches, to different sports, to smaller events, to big events, is not something which is putting the respective sport into trouble or into risk,” he said.

“If we do not send our controlled scouts to these events, you will see the scouts coming from bookmakers, and they will not be controlled.”

Krannich is adamant that their involvement helps keep the sports’ integrity intact, rather than corrupting it.

“When we developed our scout business, it was a natural reaction to the request from the bookmaker industry, and by taking over this service from the bookmakers, we made it transparent and we prevented the dodgy people going to the events.

“At the end of the day, it’s not that we are generating a market. We are responding to a market.”

Our take – tighten the screws and eliminate the markets on smaller sports

When it comes to punting there has to be an inherent trust in the integrity of the sport. When there is a dubiousness to international sports, what hope do the semi-professionals have?

If you are an athlete plugging away, earning a couple of hundred dollars a game while trying to pay bills and put food on the table for your family, it would be extremely hard to turn down a hefty pay packet to foul out early, or make a couple of bad shots.

Can you blame them? Of course not, so why make it an option in the first place?

Look, we would be lying if we said we haven’t placed a multi on the Romanian indoor handball league at 2am for a laugh when there is no other markets up, but would the gambling world truly suffer if these lower-tier sports were eliminated completely?

The government has the opportunity to make a strong stance here. Banning gambling on any sport which is not 100 percent professional and governed by an integrity commission seems like the logic step to eliminate the threat of corruptibility.

The sanctity of sport is too important in our eyes. Leave the gambling to the professional leagues and let the local level, amateur and semi-professional athletes play for the love of the game.

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