"Betting itself isn't the problem": Sportradar speaks out on betting corruption & match-fixing

Kahfeel Buchanan
Kahfeel Buchanan
Sports Betting News
News - Hockey
Q&A with Sportradar about Betting Corruption and Match-fixing in sports

One of the last things that sports bettors want are fixed games. Sportradar released its report on match-fixing and betting corruption in sports, so we reached out to get more information on the topic.

Andreas Krannich, Sportradar integrity services managing director, answered questions about the issue during an interview. 

Quick Take

  • In 2022, 1,212 suspicious matches were detected across 12 sports
  • Majority of sporting events are free from match-fixing, over 99%
  • Fewest suspicious matches in North America, most in Europe

❓ Q: Less than 1% of matches are affected by match-fixing and betting corruption in sports. What would you say to someone who says 1% is not a lot and why should they care about 1%? 

🗣️ A: The message is important. Less than 1% of all matches that we monitor are manipulated for betting purposes. There’s one caveat, the number that we communicated is 1,200 matches in one year. This is the tip of iceberg. We have a very conservative and strict approach.

We only communicate a match to being suspicious if we are 110% convinced. Over the last 18, where we identified over 8,000 matches for being suspicious, we never had a false positive.

Due to the very strict level of escalation as we call it and due to the fact that we are supporting sport and law enforcement in their fight against match fixing, our reports and our work must be bulletproofed.

The total number is 1,200 (in 2022), every match which is manipulated is one match too much.

We are not here for the next headline. The real number will definitely be higher, but there’s a second aspect. This is also something everyone has to take seriously. The total number is 1,200 (in 2022), every match which is manipulated is one match too much.

Manipulation in sport is like a cancer.

Why? Say you are an athlete or referee, once you have manipulated the rules one time, in one case, you will be vulnerable for the rest of your life. You will be blackmailed by the criminals for the rest of your life.

This is what we see on a daily basis where we support police and support investigations into match-fixing. Very often the criminality begins with naivety, the player or referee thinks he or she has everything under control.

❓ Q: Would you say North Americans should avoid betting in other regions? Based on Sportradar’s data, North America has a lot less betting corruption than other regions.

🗣️ A: If someone is a fan of a specific team, sport, or athlete, why should he or she not bet on this person? Therefore, I think what we learned in 18 years is one of the big problems about match-fixing is the false public perception that bookmakers are part of the problem and not part of the solution. One of the most important talents for successful integrity work in sports is transparency and a regulated operator industry.

Regulation, competitive, visible, accessible, regulated industry is the precondition for integrity. If there is fraud, you have bookmakers to go to support you and provide the information, this is not possible if the market isn’t regulated or partly underground like in Germany.

“Betting itself isn’t the problem.”

If there is a demand there will be an offer and the offer should be regulated because otherwise non-regulation you only facilitate black markets and mafia structure. If you ask a criminal what would be best for his or her business in match-fixing, bad or non-existing regulation because this is the platform they need to succeed and corrupt sport.

❓ Q: The report mentions youth and regional leagues are experiencing betting corruption and match-fixing, where are people fixing/betting on these events?

🗣️ A: You have to understand what we have been doing for the last 18 years. We are convincing and educating more and more sports (to fight against betting corruption and match-fixing). We are helping more and more state authorities to look into this. Back in the day, top divisions was targeted. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the criminal. What is their motivation? Maximize your return on investment and minimize your risk.

Krannich said to think of Sportradar as a security system for houses.

Consider you are entering a street with 10 nice houses and villas, three of them have a gold standard alerting system. Which houses will you break into? If seven are unprotected, go to them. This is also something we see. Due to the fact that over the last year, sports betting coverage increased.

“You see how many different sports are offered on lower levels, it’s still attractive for a criminal to target a lower division sport that is not protected by for instance our system.”

He mentioned lower divisions in soccer as an example, where the majority of fixing occurs. We are supporting FIFA now to monitor all professional soccer globally, so all their 211 members in first and second divisions plus cup divisions.

If we monitor and identify and communicate with FIFA to take action, the risks — for match fixers —  increase and the probability for good return on investment decreases. So why not go into sports and lower divisions where the level of integrity and robust integrity measures are less?

❓ Q: How confident are you that Sportradar can get rid of match-fixing and betting corruption in sports like basketball where it seems very hard to prove?

🗣️ A: In theory, you’re right. Krannich talked about a case of match-fixing in basketball. They were the top players of the team. Their modus operandi was we destroy the opponent in the first half, and in the third quarter we do not score and we bet on it. Then in the fourth quarter we score and win the match.

So how to argue the best performers in the game fixed the match? And there are plenty of those cases, but we have the proof, the betting. The more we educate stakeholders in sports and the regional enforcement, the more successful we will be.

This is a concrete example where we had a successful police investigation in Austria and the players were identified, arrested, and interviewed. We have the technology in place. We are applying massively artificial intelligence.

“When I started 18 years ago, everything was manual. These days we process over 30 billion odds changes a year and over 16.5 million bet tickets per day.”

We are not naive. Not all sports or organizations are willing to invest into integrity and taking concrete measures. Several of them try to ignore the problem which is again an invitation for match-fixers to attack their competitions.

I’m optimistic that we can be much more successful in the future, but we need close cooperation and willingness from different people in sports. Krannich said he has seen cases where young talent are taught and forced to manipulate games.