An insight into the types of people who bet on sport could help regulators crack down on any illegal sports betting operators, or law enforcement figure out the methods used to cheat in betting markets, according to the study.
A betting company may have started out offering its service only to a small number of bookmakers, but as its business took off it had to expand its customer base to more bookmakers and more customers.
“The more bookmakers it has, the harder it is for them to stay hidden,” said Lawrence Keane, the chief executive of the National Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. “If you are the betting company and you are a cross between a mafia cartel and a drug cartel, the more operators you can have the better. So you go from one operator to two, from two operators to three and then you are able to expand your bets and reach a new customer base.”
There is an overlap in the worlds of crime and betting, said Joshua Zeitz, the director of the Next Street gaming technology firm. When a group of mobsters, say the Gambino family, are operating in a small city, the only people who have an edge in knowing their secret codes are the mobsters themselves, he said.
“Sports betting in particular, because there are so many sports that can be bet on, you have this vast and ancillary industry built on betting,” he said. “What that industry does is that the bookies actually get tipped off into the market, so the betting line becomes so well known that bookies can monitor everything going on with the same eye as a betting company or a betting exchange.”
But, by exposing the code, sports betting companies might be able to shut down the networks of gangs, with the cooperation of the authorities, he said.
Of course, that might be the kind of information that makes a bookmaker’s customers suspicious of him. Mr Zeitz said that any betting company looking to track the methods used by illegal operators should seek to uncover the players behind the betting companies, so that the methods are not traceable to the bookmakers.
Online gambling is increasingly popular, but the industry is still legally somewhat complicated. The major bookmakers offer only online betting in a handful of countries, in particular Britain, France and Italy, and the new Italian law on the matter is expected to pave the way for more money to flow from illegal online operators.
“I think it is a situation that’s ripe for exploitation by criminal syndicates,” said Alan Meale, a member of Parliament for the Labour Party and the co-chairman of a parliamentary group on illegal gambling.
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