Experts Were Convening on Sports Betting Issues Like Match Fixing as Alabama/Bohannon Connection Unfolded  

Jim Brown, Head of Integrity Services, North America and Athlete Wellbeing at Sportradar speaks to attendees at the Integrity in Sport and Betting Conference in Indianapolis last week about the growth of sport betting and challenges associated with detecting match fixing.

On the same day last week that Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon was dismissed after suspicious betting activity surrounding an Alabama vs. LSU game, IIFX (the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience) was holding an industry gathering, the Integrity in Sport and Betting Conference in Indianapolis, to discuss such issues. 

“The irony of the day was not lost on all of us there,” said Lou Marciani, co-founder of IIFX and long-time leader in spectator sports safety and security. “The growth of this kind of activity is precisely the kind of challenge that widespread sport betting has brought along with it. Betting on sports is proliferating around the world, and with 34 states and jurisdictions already permitting legal and live sports betting and another four where it is legal, there are no signs of it slowing down.” 

Though online betting has great entertainment value for sports fans, the proliferation of easy-to-use betting apps and the promise of instant monetary gratification can invite abuse, including match fixing. Integrity in sports and betting discussions will also feature prominently at the upcoming IIFX-ALSD (Association of Luxury Suite Directors) national conference and trade show from July 9-11, 2023. 

The more than 100 sports and entertainment industry, government, regulatory, and academic stakeholders meeting in Indianapolis discussed match fixing (the issue at the center of the Alabama baseball situation) among other potential sports betting vulnerabilities.  

Sportradar, a sports technology company that monitors the intersection of sports, betting, and integrity, reported 1,212 suspicious matches in 92 countries in 2022. Match fixing can include paying players to lose a match (sporting fix), exploiting the betting market (betting fix), engineering an outcome by, for example, missing a field goal or missing a call (spot fix), or using insider information to gain an advantage. 

The pandemic era boosted the values and revenues of professional and college sports teams and fostered the growth of online entertainment, including streaming services and sports betting. Professional sports revenue in 2021 exceeded $41 billion and college sports earned more than $20 billion.  

The global sports betting and lotteries market is estimated to be $231 billion in 2022, with $1.54 trillion in global sports betting turnover, including $174 billion in North America. It was by far the fasted growing segment of the commercial gaming market in 2022. 

The agenda included speakers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), SportRadar, GeoComply, the Indiana Gaming Commission, the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Epic Risk Management, among others.  

Conference topics included:

  • Student athlete well-being
  • Intersection between sport betting and recruiting practices
  • Sports betting, integrity, and compliance case studies
  • Sports book ledger deciphering
  • Sport betting gaming laws and policies
  • Protecting sports from integrity threats
  • Geolocating sports bets to prevent fraudulent and illegal activity
  • Growth of name, image, and likeness in professional and collegiate sports   

“The information-sharing needs are vast, and we look forward to working with professional sports leagues, the NCAA, and others to create more educational opportunities, including our July conference in Indianapolis in July and at a national conference in 2024. The goal is to enhance the fan experience and protect the integrity of sport,” said Marciani. 

For those interested in future discussions, sports betting topics are on the agenda at an upcoming national conference mentioned earlier and linked here July 9-11 at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis. Dr. Marciani and the IIFX team are passionate about helping the industry navigate these important issues. They can also be reached directly regarding these topics at [email protected]  or by contacting Dr. Marciani via email at [email protected] or via phone at (601) 466-9647. 

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