Illegal sports gambling a growing threat

(AAP)

The International Centre for Sport Security says crime gangs are laundering more that $A150 billion through illegal sports betting.

Asian dominated criminal groups are laundering more than $US140 billion ($A150 billion) of illegal sports betting, mainly on football, a watchdog group said on Thursday.

The International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), in a report released less than a month before the World Cup starts, said illegal gambling is a growing threat especially to football and cricket.

But it added that tennis, basketball, badminton and motor racing are also affected.

Eighty per cent of sports gambling is illegally carried out, according to the researchers from the Doha-based ICSS and Sorbonne University in Paris.

"Betting threatens all countries and regions, with football and cricket the sports most under siege," said the report.

The ICCS estimated that wagers worth between $275 billion and $685 billion are made each year around the world with more than 80 per cent made illegally.

Legal betting only provides about $5.5 billion in tax revenues, it said.

Asia and Europe represent 85 per cent of the total legal and illegal market and Asia accounts for 53 per cent of the illegal market.

While the researchers estimated there are about 8,000 legal operators mainly operating in offshore low tax zones they said it was "impossible" to say how many illegal gambling operations exist.

With cases of match-fixing spreading, the report called for an international convention on the manipulation of sporting events.

"It is clear that current international instruments are insufficient and there is a desperate need for well-designed criminal laws specific to the manipulation of sport," said Laurent Vidal, Chair of the Sorbonne-ICSS Research Program.

The cricket and football world governing bodies have both set up anti-corruption units. But police and experts say bribery is spreading.

Seven players from English lower-league clubs were arrested by British police in April for alleged spot-fixing, with six others re-arrested.

Vidal said that numerous Asian championships are "fixed".

"The Chinese are not interested in local sport any more, that is why they bet on European sport."

He told AFP there were certain provinces in the Philippines that do not check where money comes from.

"Match fixing and gambling is at the basis of laundering dirty money. Before arms traffickers and slave traders were laundering money when they would put in 100 units and get 60 at the end.

"With gambling they invest 100 and get 95 back. These are money laundering machines."

India and Pakistan have faced repeat cricket match-fixing scandals. And former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent has opened up to investigators about widespread match-fixing in several countries, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said on Thursday.

Vincent has confirmed that he was approached by bookmakers.

British newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported that Vincent has provided evidence about match or spot fixing during competitions in England, India, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Source AAP

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