Sports integrity

IBIA flags 270 matches in 2020 as table tennis and esports alerts skyrocket

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported 270 suspicious betting events to the relevant authorities in 2020, up 47.5% year-on-year, as reports for table tennis and esports jumped significantly with other sports suspended for much of the year.

The IBIA noted that while the number of reports was significantly lower than in 2019, it was roughly level with the amount recorded in both 2017 and 2018.

The alerts came across 48 different sports, but tennis was the most common with 98, while football was second with 61.

With table tennis and esports becoming much more popular betting markets in 2020 following the suspension of most sport across the globe in efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, both also saw increases in suspicious betting reports.

Table tennis generated 44 alerts, up from 5 in 2019. Of these alerts, 26 were in the second quarter of the year alone. Esports saw 28 reports, compared to just 3 in 2019, with 26 occurring in the middle two quarters of the year.

“2020 was a turbulent year for many sectors including the betting industry, which had to adjust its market offering due to the global sports lockdown,” IBIA chief executive Khalid Ali (pictured) said. “As a result, IBIA focused its integrity monitoring activity to take account of new sports tournaments and competitions that emerged.”

Khalid Ali

The majority of alerts, 141, were flagged for events in Europe, with table tennis in Ukraine and tennis in Russia the two events most likely to generate alerts with 25 and 15 respectively. Table tennis in Russia saw a further 13 alerts. 

Asia followed with 45 alerts, mostly in football and particularly in Vietnam, while North America and Africa followed with 22 each, mostly in tennis with matches in the USA and Tunisia generating high numbers of reports. The remaining 12 reports were in South American football.

A total of 12 teams of players received either sporting or criminal sanctions based on the 270 matches that saw IBIA reports. The IBIA said that its data was used in determining these sanctions, which included lifetime bans, for several of these cases.

IBIA alerts are generated first through member operators, which flag suspicious activity to the association and all other members. If the IBIA determines after a review that the event deserves further investigation, it then raises a suspicious activity report to the sport’s governing body and any relevant regulators.

Ali said that IBIA had been making efforts to improve integrity in events that had seen a recent increase in popularity. These efforts included the creation of new betting data collection best practices.

“The association is seeking to work with stakeholders to address any potential integrity issues that may be associated with these new events through a range of actions, including promoting a set of standards for the collation of sports data for betting,” Ali said.

Stats Perform has become the first data provider to sign up to these standards, which state that all data collection must be carried out by people aged 18 and above, whose identities have been verified and who have passed background checks. Data providers must also make clear the method in which data was collected and must carry out risk assessments for all events in which data is collected.

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