Regulation of wagering is best protection
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February 08 2013, 5:07PM
By Trevor Chappell
MELBOURNE, Feb 8 AAP - Wagering operators say the best way to clamp down on match-fixing in sports is to have strong regulators, and bans will only force it underground.
The Australian Crime Commission on Thursday identified widespread doping in professional sport and possible match-fixing and manipulation of betting markets.
Victoria Police also warned of a major risk of match-fixing in Australian sport, particularly A-League soccer.
Gambling firm Tabcorp acknowledged on Friday that integrity in sport was paramount, but banning sports betting would only drive the practice underground.
"It is important that the focus on tight regulation and operation by reliable wagering operators continues," Tabcorp said in a statement.
"It's far safer to have a well regulated betting industry, whose operations are open to scrutiny, than allow the activity to go underground and unchecked."
Tabcorp said Australia had some of the most sophisticated sports betting regulations in the world.
Australian wagering operators and sporting bodies also had sophisticated measures in place to identify and manage integrity matters.
"Governments, regulators, wagering operators and sporting bodies continue to work together to strengthen these measures," Tabcorp said.
Tabcorp said turnover in the overall sports wagering market in Australia was worth $4.0 billion in 2012. Sports wagering includes the NRL, AFL, cricket, tennis, and other sports, but not racing.
Wagering on racing was worth $21.5 billion.
Sports wagering in 2012 grew by 3.6 per cent.
Tabcorp said its turnover in 2012 for sports betting was $1.3 billion.
Live betting during sports events, which is permitted via telephone and in TAB outlets but not online, accounted for 15 per cent of Tabcorp's sports betting turnover.
Tabcorp's turnover from live betting grew 20 per cent on the previous year.
Tattsbet (Tatts Group's racing and sports betting arm) spokesman Gerard Daffy said there had been "no clarity" around the comments made on Thursday by the Australian Crime Commission and the Victoria Police.
Mr Daffy said match-fixing appeared to be more prevalent in unregulated areas overseas where transactions were untraceable.
"Everything's run over with a fine-tooth comb in this country," he said.
Placing restrictions on types of sports betting would raise the likelihood of corruption.
"If you take away what's on offer now in any shape or form, you'll drive it underground or overseas," Mr Daffy said.
The Australian Wagering Council (AWC) - whose members include betting agencies and exchanges Sportsbet, Betfair, Sportingbet Group Australia, Tom Waterhouse.com, and Bet 365 - said the operation of overseas betting could damage the integrity of sports betting.
Australian punters and Australian sport needed protection from unregulated offshore illegal gambling operators and local illegal SP bookmakers.
"For those Australians who like to wager on sporting events, it is imperative that any bets be placed with reputable, regulated and legal Australian wagering organisations," AWC chief executive Chris Downy said in a statement.
Mr Downy said legalised and regulated account-based wagering made it easier for reputable Australian wagering operators to identify and report unusual bets and suspicious betting patterns to authorities.