The Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), the sports betting integrity body for the lottery industry, has reported a year-on-year decline in the amount of suspicious betting alerts it sent to members during the first half of 2020.
The organisation raised a total of 269 alerts with its members during the six months to 30 June, down 38% from 432 alerts in the same period last year. This followed almost all major sporting competitions being suspended or cancelled as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic from mid-March, with the first football leagues not resuming until May.
This, GLMS president Ludovico Calvi said, led to increased attempts at manipulation, despite the reduced sporting calendar.
“The cessation of mainstream sport competitions worldwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak has created a window of opportunity for malefactors to exploit and manipulate sports betting across the globe,” Calvi explained. “As a matter of fact, during the last quarter, there was an increased number of cases of matches which never actually took place, but were promoted on the web with the goal of promoting at the expense of the unsuspecting public and betting operators.
“Criminal organisations have been very active since the outbreak of Covid-19, seizing any opportunity – even during a pandemic crisis – to further their illicit activities. As a result, GLMS has increased the level of vigilance and intelligence monitoring and will do more so in the upcoming months.”
Of these alerts, 199 were sent before a match or the event had started, with eight filed in-play and the remaining 62 raised after the sporting event in question had ended.
Football was the sport of highest concern to the GLMS in the first half, with 197 of all alerts in relation to football events. Basketball followed some way behind with 27 alerts, then ice hockey with 19 and tennis on 18.
Other sports that were flagged during the period included volleyball with three alerts, esports on two, and one each for handball, badminton and sepak.
In terms of location, Europe was by far the area with the most suspicious betting activity, accounting for 178 of the 269 alerts in H1. Most of these (137) were for football, with 17 related to ice hockey, 11 for basketball, eight for tennis, three for volleyball and one each for handball and badminton.
Asia followed in a distant second with 64 alerts, the majority of which again were related to football events, while North America saw 13 alerts raised in H1. Just eight alerts were filed in South America and five in Africa, while Australasia did not see a single alert during the period.
From all alerts, a total of 37 were classed as ‘red’, which indicated more serious offences, including suspicious odds changes, insider information being used for betting, rumours of match-fixing from a named source, or unusual volume or betting patterns on Betfair.
Some 64 alerts were classed as ‘yellow’, covering lesser issues such as rumours of match-fixing on social media, 126 were in relation to ‘green’ concerns such as team news and minor odds changes. A further 42 reports were not colour-coded.
The primary reason for raising an alert was a significant change in betting odds, which accounted for 64 of the alerts. Team-related news led to 61 alerts in H1, while consumer requests led to 39 alerts and odd changes that required further investigation 31 alerts.
The GLMS also revealed that it flagged a total of 52 matches with its partners in H1, down from 64 last year. Most of these – 28 – were reported to football’s global governing body Fifa, with 17 being raised with football’s’ European body Uefa.
Just three were sent to the International Olympic Committee, with two sent to the Esports Integrity Commission and one to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). The remaining 13 were split between other GLMS partners.