Soccer is in Trouble (and so are we)

by Devanshu Mehta

You know Soccer, right, the sport where commies chase the ball? It’s in trouble. Brian Phillips reports on the large scale match-fixing for Grantland:

Right now, Dan Tan’s programmers are busy reverse-engineering the safeguards of online betting houses. About $3 billion is wagered on sports every day, most of it on soccer, most of it in Asia. That’s a lot of noise on the big exchanges. We can exploit the fluctuations, rig the bets in a way that won’t trip the houses’ alarms. And there are so many moments in a soccer game that could swing either way. All you have to do is see an Ilves tackle in the box where maybe the Viikingit forward took a dive. It happens all the time. It would happen anyway. So while you’re running around the pitch in Finland, the syndicate will have computers placing high-volume max bets on whatever outcome the bosses decided on, using markets in Manila that take bets during games, timing the surges so the security bots don’t spot anything suspicious. The exchanges don’t care, not really. They get a cut of all the action anyway. The system is stacked so it’s gamblers further down the chain who bear all the risks.

In a way, we’re lucky there hasn’t been enough cricket played to make this viable. I think.

With the proliferation of T20 leagues, especially in countries with underground gambling, sketchy law enforcement and a dysfunctional judiciary, match-fixing in cricket is only going to get worse. At the same time, the England and Australia often market cricket as though it’s a sport purpose-built for betting.

Cricket Australia is reviewing whether this is a good idea. And the ECB works with Betfair to monitor the betting markets.

But in my mind, it’s a question of when, not if, cricket will face it’s next major betting scandal.