Match-fixing is severely harmful to the integrity of sports. Athletes, coaches and officials alike can be approached by fixers to arrange the outcome of a match, making some others profit millions. There are some other goals around fixing a match, such as obtaining a better play-off spot or securing a better draft pick (NBA), but they are not the focus of this activity. You too can be scammed due to “fixed matches”. Check below to learn how.
How does match-fixing work?
Match-fixing is a major issue to the integrity and reputation of sports. Federations, clubs, athletes and fans alike are all hurt by all of those who push this practice through. If it becomes widespread, we run the risk of seeing entire sports being destroyed due to the greed – and lack of values – of some.
This problem has escalated since the amount of money around sports and betting has risen exponentially. In addition, globalisation and the internet – easing instantaneous international contact – have severely boosted this illegal activity. It can severely dent your possibility of profiting from sports betting!
But, first things, first:
What is match-fixing?
Match-fixing involves a knit network of individuals whose main objective is to fabric the result of a game outcome or of smaller details within the game. The latter is called spot-fixing and involves trying to obtain a certain number of throw-ins, corners, points played, etc. Usually, this activity is harder to spot as the actions don’t have a significant impact on the outcome of a game.
Usually, organised crime is behind this activity, as it can be very lucrative. Additionally, most proceeds end up being absolutely tax-free!
Several people can act in order to allow for a fix to happen:
As the ones with the most direct involvement, athletes are poised to be the first target for match fixers. Lower-ranked ones – or from lower tiers – are easier to bribe as money is scarcer for them. Their leagues are also less controlled since you tend not to have any live transmission and media coverage.
They are approached by someone – even another athlete – asking them to throw the game (or part of it) in exchange for a substantial sum of money. More than the amount they make in one full year! In comparison, this figure is just a speck of dust in comparison with the amount the bettors behind the fix are poised to win! Those who end up accepting will be brought into the web and hardly will ever escape again. The skeletons in their closet prevent them from saying no again, as their entire careers stand on the line.
In football (not the American one), goalkeepers are often targeted. They play a key role in every game and can be bought out to allow a goal from a certain player or a pre-defined score line while concealing pretty well their intentions. After all, Youtube is full of highlights from goalkeepers’ clear misses! At the end of the day, the focus ends up being on the goal scorer and not on the goalkeeper. Unless the fix is too obvious…
When the fix only involves a part of the game, it becomes very hard to spot. How to separate a normal lose of focus from a deliberate action that ends up losing a point, or a set?
Coaches can also be involved in these schemes. Using different tactics, resting key players, strange substitutions… Everything can be used to reduce the performance of their own team, when needed.
They are somewhat more protected than athletes as they can always say that their actions had the long-term goal of “X” in mind. And, most of the time, they are being sincere. Allegri, Juventus’ head coach, usually rests Ronaldo before an important match in Champions League. It would be utter non-sense to accuse him of wanting to fix the previous weekend league match by not playing Ronaldo.
Officials are also a common target for the scamsters, even though they are increasingly scrutinised. Small decisions, such as changing the side of a throw-in, conceding a corner or allowing an off-side position to be played can bring significant upheaval to a game. Stoppage time decisions can give any team the opportunity to score. Also, they can book a key defending player early in the game. This reduces his possibility of adopting an aggressive – perhaps more effective – stance.
Other officiating decisions can be fundamental to the outcome of a game, such as disallowing a goal or sending off an opposing player.
Usually, this practice aims to provide hefty returns by gambling on the outcome of that game. Other, smaller, objectives might be to secure a better opponent in a future play-off round or to improve the chances of drafting a better player in the future. The latter is NBA-specific:
Tanking is a very common term in the NBA and involves a team purposely losing games to worsen their league position. Through this action, it improves its odds of grabbing a better position for the upcoming draft. For those who don’t know, young players are not signed directly by any of the teams. In order to improve the competition’s balance, the best prospects tend to land in weaker teams through a pick allotment. Overly simplifying the system, the worst team in the past season would get to pick the best rookie, the second-worst then picks the second-best, and so on…
This action usually happens when teams no longer have the possibility to attain a play-off berth. In that situation, there’s nothing left to fight for during the remainder of the season. Thus, some General Managers or coaches opt to lose a few games to see if they can get a better player in the draft.
Some teams might even enact a behaviour where they tank for several years. They are trying to rebuild their roster entirely to start fighting for the Championship in upcoming seasons.
Zion seems to be the reason why some teams appear to be tanking during this NBA season. Wearing the #1 jersey, he is poised to become the #1 pick when he enters the draft. The 2.07m and 130kg prospect Forward has been posting incredible numbers during his Freshman year at 22.5 ppg and 8.8 rebounds (as of 29th March). His athletic prowess is also matched by his success in social media. He has been helping Duke to skyrocket the value of their franchise on social media.
How can you be scammed?
Match-fixing is a real issue, but much less preponderant than it appears online. In fact, plenty internet scamsters tell you that they have insider info on any given match being fixed.
Additionally, they will send you information about upcoming games and the respective outcome. You are not convinced, but you keep the info in the back of your mind. Why shouldn’t you?
You get home late at night and decide to take a look at the scoreboard of said games. Amazed, you discover that the guy has given you the correct outcome for all presented games! Magic? Elementary, my dear Watson! Nothing more than statistics, I would add.
The following email you receive from the same guy will be read a lot more closely, I assure you! And you might even chip in some money to receive the next bullet-proof prediction! However, I’m not sure these ones will land.
Well, the first ones landed. Sure it is a scam?
This is a classic case of survivorship bias, since you are taking a decision based on a subset of data, completely unaware of the existence of the remainder data. In this case, you were presented with the winning case, while others – unbeknownst to you – received the losing case.
How does it work?
Well, let’s put things simply. The scamster only predicts one game at a time and only its final outcome as 1X2. The scam starts by collecting online a big database of emails.
Afterwards, it is split evenly in three segments – one for each outcome. Each one of them will receive a promotional email stating the existence of a fixed match and that, given that they want to prove the veracity of the claim, the first prediction is given for free in the email. Here’s the catch, each third will receive a different prediction – 1, X and 2! One third will get the right one and the others will quickly dismiss the email.
This process is repeated a handful of times – the latter ones asking for some money in retribution (just a small part of the winnings they have given them until then!) – and, from the large set of emails, a significant group has always received the winning predictions! Not magic, just statistics. It is now fairly well convinced that the claims are true.
The last email is only sent to this group. In it, the scamster claims to be in possession of an amazing fixed match where a large sum will be bet. To get the correct outcome, the individual should pay a hefty fee as this is an “AAAMAZING opportunity”. The previous track record has a hit rate of 100% so there’s absolutely no need to worry. Well, let’s just say that this will be the case… but only for 1/3 of everyone who paid.
The scamster cashes in a large sum of money and sends all three different predictions – or sends everyone the same (why bother?). This match is as fixed as the previous ones – tip, it is NOT fixed – and you were just (un)lucky enough to be on the winning side every time before. Well, you have just paid significantly for nothing but a random prediction of the match. You end up being scammed through the usage of simple statistics.
In Betmarkets, we take a strong stance against events and attitudes like these. We want to build an environment where transparency and respect abound in the market and that’s why we vet every sports betting expert before he/she enters the platform.