Does Online Sports Gambling Encourage Cheating?

One argument that seems to be in vogue at the moment, is that the advent of online gambling  is a big contributor to fraud. Whilst technology can make it easier for someone to cheat in various ways such as pitchsiding for instance, there is no doubt that online sports gambling in no way encourages cheating.

On the contrary, today’s technology is built to detect anomalies thanks various sophisticated methods. Complex mathematical models for example, are used to analyse vast sets of statistics and as well as to monitor users’ activity. Year on year, as the technology becomes more advanced, these incidents become much easier to detect.

Take online casinos for instance, understandably, there was a lot of fear about the dangers of cheating or hacking in the beginning. Yet online gambling sites have always managed to respond to these threats successfully.

Online casinos invest millions into the latest software to identify potential cheaters and even freeze a player’s account instantly if they suspect any cheating. They also have betting limits and verification checks. Even when it comes to mobile gambling, there is a lot of emphasis on creating fast and secure applications.

Now although online casino gambling procedures are slightly different to sports gambling, the fundamental pillars are still there. Sports betting sites do not just give out cheques - every player that wins a bet needs to register their real name and real address, and sometimes due to serious regulations in some countries, players might also be asked to upload personal documents.

So although technology opens doors to cheating, the reality is that, illegal activity in sports betting has been around for a very long time. Cricket, in particular, has had quite a series of  match-fixing and spot-fixing incidents throughout its history.

 Here’s a quick run-through of some betting related incidents with cricketers down the years  

MARK WAUGH

Australian cricketer Mark Waugh holds news conference over allegations of receiving money from a bookmaker
©REUTERS
 

John The Bookmaker (1995)

Former Australian cricketers, Mark Waugh and Shane Warne, were both given $4,000 and $5,000 respectively to provide information on pitch and weather conditions to an Indian bookmaker, who went by the pseudonym “John”, during a tour of Sri Lanka.

It was one of the most publicized betting controversies, although initially, the matter was covered up by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), which decided to privately fine the players and report the matter to the International Cricket Council. It was later uncovered, in 1998,  in a media expose and the players and the ACB were widely condemned for their actions. 

Marlon Samuels (2008)

 In 2008, Marlon Samuels was found to have behaved inappropriately by  receiving money from  Mukesh Kochar before a one-day match against India in Nagpur on January 21, 2007.

The WICB Disciplinary Panel agreed that Marlon did receive money and that the circumstances could bring him or the game into disrepute. There was no proof he provided information and he received a 2-year ban from the Panel.

Salman Butt

Former Pakistan cricket test captain, Salman Butt, arrives at City of Westminster Magistrates Court in central London
©REUTERS

Lord's 2010 – England v Pakistan

 During a Test match at Lord's, in 2010, two Pakistani bowlers, Amir and Mohammad Asif, delivered three no-balls on Thursday and Friday respectively.

It later transpired, in footage secretly filmed and released by News of the World, a man identified as Mazhar Majeed, was seen taking £150,000 in cash in return for predicting when three "no balls" would be delivered at specific points. Salman Butt, the team's captain, was also found guilty of conspiring with the players.

All four of them were sentenced to prison ranging from 6 -32 months, and received a ban of between 5-10 years.

Recent Allegations

 Just last December there were serious allegations of corruption in the third Ashes Test match held between Australia and England, although a few days ago, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the termination of investigations into these allegations, stating there is “no evidence” to suggest an alleged ‘spot-fixing’ scheme took place.

James Sutherland - CEO Cricket Australia

James Sutherland - CEO Cricket Australia
There’s no substance to these allegations or justification to suspect that this Test match or indeed the Ashes series as a whole is subject to corrupt activities.
©REUTERS

 The details surrounding this matter, that were first divulged by The Sun, included secret recordings of two men claiming they were in contact with “someone in the Australian camp who was who to help arrange spot-fixing incidents in the Test.”

Ultimately, what this tells us is that whether it is online or not - cheating and fraud have always existed and will always exist regardless. However, with technology we can create and ensure a better, more secure space where players can enjoy betting on their favourite horse, cricketer, or footballer, without having to worry about anything else, because everything else is already being taken care of.

 So, does online gambling encourage cheating? We’ll let you decide.