Although the legalization of sports betting is a big step towards opening a huge gaming market and represents the expected exit of Brazil from the club of the few countries that have not legalized gambling, authorities should focus on regulation. It should be accelerated so that any attempt to take advantage of matches can be countered as soon as it is detected. Experts from the International Olympic Committee have made it clear that if there are no regulations, fighting betting corruption becomes a very complicated issue to deal with.
To get a bit in context, we must understand that illegal gaming networks are fully globalized, meaning that a network of criminals located in Singapore may be working with games from any South American league without being monitored by local authorities. There are numerous cases of groups of illegal operators in Asia with subsidiaries in Europe that work to manipulate the results, especially with the consent of club directors or sports entities. These situations can be repeated in countries of our region and currently in Brazil, authorities should focus on the possibilities of sports fraud that is always latent.
GLMS officials explain that football is the sport with the highest percentage of manipulation and corruption. Experts like Ludovico Calvi know that one of the keys to combating this problem is that everything must be transparent and within an efficient regulation. If we confine ourselves to the statements of a Secretary of State that affirmed that in Brazil there are currently no adequate personnel to work in a regulatory framework and do not have the number of people to monitor the development of bets, could the Brazilian market be a victim of the networks of illegal gambling that operates around the world?
The prolific story of the manipulation of results suggests that criminals are eager for new markets to launch their networks and activate hidden cells or generate new ones, and be able to act in emerging markets that do not yet have the experience to deal with those dangers. Experts warn that authorities should be vigilant on issues related to education and informing about the dangers of falling into criminal networks for athletes and sports club administrators. These would be big steps, but industry history calls for maximum caution and suggests that we must go much further to keep betting within a fair play context.
We must emphasize that the global sports betting market has higher percentages of illegal operations than any other economic activity. Data published by GLMS indicates that in an estimated market of 984 billion euros, about 612 billion, or 62 percent, corresponds to illegal gambling. In addition, of 133 billion euros in gross gaming revenue (GGR), only 41 percent, about 55 billion, correspond to legal activity. That is, illegal gambling dominates the market and according to experts the only way to fight it is a regulation according to the complicated times we are living.
The latest events in the frustrated match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in the Copa Libertadores final in Buenos Aires give us an overview of how vulnerable the betting market can be in relation to problems related to football practices. According to data published by the GLMS, 70 percent of all manipulation alerts in matches correspond to football, which means that authorities will have to be prepared to face possible cases of manipulation of results in a region where football is the favorite sport. The question is: is Brazil prepared to face all the possible risks of illegal gaming networks that operate in much of the world? We will have the answer in the coming months.
Sports bets are approved in Brazil and is a big leap towards the legalization of the entire gaming battery and entering a new market that could create the much needed new jobs and tax revenues. There are really positive things in this new situation, but without modern, streamlined regulation, the relationship between betting and the possible implications of organized crime in manipulating results could ruin any new positive scenario for an efficient gambling and betting market.
Fabián Bataglia. Journalist specializing in the gambling industry; graduated in Social Communication at the CAECE University of Buenos Aires and professor of Journalism and Communication at this university. Specialist in information production and digital communication; currently works in Diario del Juego of Buenos Aires, Argentina.