The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported 236 cases of suspicious betting to the relevant authorities during 2021, a 13% reduction on the 270 cases reported in 2020, with 69 alerts in the fourth quarter.
While it may be a decrease compared to the previous year, the 2021 figure is consistent with recent years, with the average number of annual alerts at 240 during 2018-20. Since 2017, IBIA has reported 1,222 alerts across 19 sports and 101 countries.
2021’s alerts spanned 13 sports and 49 different countries, with tennis (80 alerts) and football (66 alerts) continuing to dominate, and Europe (118 alerts) accounting for the highest number of alerts with 50% of the total.
Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, said: “Another challenging year for the sector has passed with the specter of COVID and its impact on sporting events declining, and hopefully a potential endgame in sight. It is therefore welcomed that the alerts for 2021 showed a downward trend and a return to pre-COVID numbers.
“Challenges however persist, notably with the growth of private sports events and establishing integrity protocols to the levels seen in traditional sports bodies. The association is working with a number of stakeholders in this area to improve integrity provisions.”
Across the Americas, 27 suspicious alerts were reported in 2021, 10 for North America and 17 for South America. North America saw a 54% decrease on the 22 reported in 2020, with just four alerts on events in the US as well, a 76% reduction on the 17 reported in the previous year.
Of those North American alerts, one came from cricket (St Kitts and Nevis), while the remaining nine came from tennis (Dominican Republic – three, Mexico – two, and the US – four).
Breaking down the South American alerts, eight came from football (Brazil – seven, Colombia – one), seven came from tennis (Brazil – two, Chile – two, Argentina – one, and Bolivia – two), one came from beach volleyball (Brazil), and one came from futsal (Brazil).
Ali continued: “Indeed, the dangers of betting corruption remain, and as the Optimum Betting Market report published last year highlighted, that equates to around $25m per annum in lost revenue for the regulated betting sector globally.
“It is therefore welcome that the requirement for operators to be part of an integrity monitoring system have gathered pace across the US, and have been endorsed in Sweden, to add to existing requirements in the Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The approach in Ontario is particularly worthy of attention and is a best practice model. The association looks forward to working with a wider range of operators on integrity as a result.”
In 2021, sporting or criminal sanctions were announced against 11 teams or players where IBIA had reported suspicious activity on their matches. In several of these cases, data from IBIA and its members helped contribute to significant sanctions being issued.