Global Sports Betting Alerts in 2021 Dropped 13% From the Previous Year

Posted on: January 26, 2022, 06:28h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2022, 01:18h.

Except for an uptick in 2021, the level of suspicious activity in sports betting isn’t changing. Data from the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) shows the number of reports is still extremely low.

An aerial shot of some of the tennis courts used for Wimbledon action in 2021. Tennis continues to show a propensity for match-fixing, even as the number of suspicious alerts falls. (Image: AELTC/Bob Martin)

The expansion of legalized sports betting, with the US entering as of 2018, was feared to lead to a serious increase in match-fixing. That was the position of some opponents. However, that argument has fallen flat.

The IBIA’s latest take on the state of suspicious betting alerts indicates that there were 239 total alerts last year. This is roughly the same as what has been recorded since 2018.

Another challenging year for the sector has passed with the spectre 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,” said IBIA CEO Khalid Ali.

The only exception during this period was 2020. 270 alerts were recorded that year. That was also when there was an increase in online sports betting because of COVID-19 restrictions. This could be viewed as a strong argument for increased online sports betting, which is easier to track than its land-based alternative.

Europe Still Leads in Most Betting Alerts

Europe is still responsible for most betting alerts. This isn’t surprising, given the continent’s extensive history with the industry. Of the 239 alerts, 188 were from Europe. Of those, Russia took first place with 27.

The North American sports betting industry saw the most movement, even though it didn’t see the most alerts. US alerts dropped from 17 to four from 2020 to 2021, representing a 76% decline. Overall, including Canada, the region went from 22 to 10, for a 54% decrease.

South America, comparatively speaking, had a low number. 17 total alerts came from the continent. Brazil had 11 of those – seven for soccer, two for tennis, one for beach volleyball, and one for futsal. Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia also made the list.

Elsewhere, betting alerts on soccer in Africa rose from one in 2020 to nine last year.

Problem Sports Are Still Problems

The trend of tennis and soccer appearing as the two most popular sports in terms of betting alerts has continued at 80% and 66%, respectively. According to the IBIA, tennis saw an 18% decrease in the number of alerts received, compared to the 98 reported in 2020. This is indicative of a downhill trend for the sport.

There were 178 and 101 tennis alerts reported in 2018 and 2019. This would seem to indicate an improvement in tennis integrity issues over the long term. Alerts at the International Tennis Federation level (ITF) decreased by 26%, from 50 in 2020 to 37 in 2021. However, ongoing scandals counter that assumption.

The number of soccer alerts rose by 8% to 66, compared with 61 the year before. This is the highest number that the IBIA has ever recorded for the sport. In spite of the increase, other studies have shown that soccer match-fixing is on the decline.

The new IBIA report covers 239 alerts on 13 sports and 49 countries. For the period from 2017 to 2021, 1,222 alerts surfaced in 19 sports and 101 countries.

Last year, 11 teams or players received penalties or fines for their participation in suspicious activity. A few athletes, like Ukrainian tennis player Stanislav Poplavskyy, were banned permanently from their sport.