Corruption in Sports More Front and Center as Popularity of Ontario Sports Gambling Grows

Corruption in Sports More Front and Center as Popularity of Ontario Sports Gambling Grows
By Mark Keast

Some other highlights that came out of the SiGMA Americas and Canadian Gaming Summit last week in Toronto.

As the Ontario sports gambling industry grows, with betting more accessible, the issue of corruption in sports and more demand on athletes will become more prevalent.

The CFL is front and center in that, especially with the season having just launched. A Canadian Gaming Summit panel last week including Eric Noivo, director of health and safety and football operations for the CFL, and Jeremy Luke, senior director of sport integrity, Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport, took on the issue. The panel was hosted by Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada

There’s traditional match fixing, and there’s also competition manipulation, impacting any aspect of a competition, like on a single point, or who serves first in a tennis match, or the team that kicks off first in a CFL game. 

“All things that can be bet on could possibly be manipulated,” Luke said. There needs to be systems in place to protect athletes in the event that someone tries to coerce the athlete to manipulate competitions, or the athlete does it on their own, he added.

Athlete safety and security is definitely a priority of the CFL, to preserve the integrity of the game. 

“Anything can be manipulated,” Noivo said. “We have had to put safeguards in place so our players, officials and our broadcasting partners are all aware what match manipulation means and how it can creep into their lives.” 

Added Vanderwel, from the operator perspective: “The integrity of the game is the backbone of the entire industry."

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Example of Competition Manipulation

Luke raised an interesting example of competition manipulation that he learned from Interpol. 

At a lower-level volleyball match, an individual, there with a younger person, went up to the two captains of the teams. The individual said the younger person was his son. The captains were told the son loved one of the teams and it would mean the world to him if whoever wins the coin toss to serve, so his favorite team could serve first. 

“The captains thought, it wasn’t a big deal, it was just an exhibition game,” Luke added. “They proceeded to do that. But Interpol said they saw gambling numbers in Asia, with an increased level of gambling on that particular match. So it seemed like a rather simple thing, but this can happen at all levels of sport.”

Athletes need to be educated around the fact that what seems like innocent requests may not be so innocent, both Luke and Noivo added. Certain sports are at higher risk than others. Soccer for example, is easier to manipulate certain parts of the competition without influencing the overall outcome of the competition. 

If you are not a top-ranked athlete, you might have a funding problem, making the athlete more at risk for coercion.

“What’s critically important as we have opened up the space for increased betting on sports,” Luke said, “is that in addition to economic development, the revenue growth, and fan engagement, is protecting the safety of those we are betting on, and those are the athletes. Over the last few years we have all worked in collaboration, and everyone is committed to do that. We just need more framework, policy and approach.” 

As part of the new CBA, the CFL has mandatory education for its players on match manipulation.

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Odds and Ends from OLG

Highlights from the OLG on PROLINE NHL betting around Game 6 between the Tampa Bay Lighting-New York Rangers, won by the Lightning 2-1. 

According to OLG, 60% of its customers had Tampa to win Game 6. One customer wagered $1,000 on the Lightning for a $1,470 payout. One customer wagered $500 on a Lightning/Giants (MLB) parlay for a $1,850 payout.

A few NHL Futures markets were settled as well: On May 30 one customer wagered $2,000 on the Lightning to win the Eastern Conference for a $3,250 payout, and on May 31 a customer wagered $1,700 on Tampa to win the series for a $2,600 payout.

OLG also reported robust wagering action on the RBC Canadian Open. Tournament winner Rory McIlroy had the largest single share of money to win the tournament outright at 14%, followed by Corey Conners, the most popular in-form Canadian entering the week, at 11%. 

One customer wagered $150 on McIlroy to win and walked away with a $1,200 payout. Another customer wagered $200 on Conners as Top Canadian for a $600 payout. Conners took 40% of all wagers for Top Canadian followed by Mackenzie Hughes (30%).

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Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals

DraftKings has the Cup final moneyline for Game 1 tonight currently at Tampa +140 and Colorado -160. Most of the handle (71%) and bets (67%) on the moneyline are on the Avs. 

Brayden Point returning to the Tampa lineup from injury, if that happens, will obviously impact that. Most of the bets (61%) are on the Over 6 total, with 72% of the handle there as well.

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Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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