When it comes to suspicious betting patters often bookies can’t win no matter what they do. They obviously can’t allow people to place bets that seem suspicious to them, or that they have been told may be suspicious, but at the same time there will inevitably be genuine bettors seeing a gap in the market that get caught up when bets are suspended because they look ‘suspicious’.
In essence, this is the practice of stopping bets from being placed or from being paid out if a bookie suspects something is afoot.
Suspicious betting is a term used by betting companies when it appears as though a bet or a number of bets has or have been placed in circumstances that trigger an alert on a bookmaker’s system. A whole heap of bets placed on their being a throw-in to a certain team in a football match in the 58th minute, for example, will be suspended and not allowed to be placed in case the bettors have some insider information. Likewise suddenly seeing 100’s of thousands on bets on a minor horse race on a Monday, which would usually attract a few thousand at best, would seem very suspicious.
Suspicious Betting Explained
The International Betting Integrity Association, which was previously known as ESSA, is an organisation that looks to ensure that there is integrity in place in the betting industry. They work alongside the likes of UEFA, FIFA, the IOC and other sports organisations in order to monitor bets placed on sporting events. The organisation uses a monitoring and alert program to identity any suspicious betting patterns placed by punters.
The IBIA monitors betting activity of accounts and uses the data acquired to collaborate with regulators so as to allow them to prevent possible corruption. Any betting activity that is flagged up as suspicious can then be further investigated. The fact that a large number of the members of the IBIA are based around the world, it allows them to keep track of bets placed in numerous different countries, not just the United Kingdom.
There are numerous reasons why a bet might be flagged up as suspicious. An excessive frequency of bets or an usual pattern when compared to a customer’s usual betting norms is one of the chief reasons, with the other big thing that will be flagged up is if a customer’s bet involves a large amount of money being placed on something very specific happening. If this bet is placed by several different accounts then that will be even more suspicious.
What Happens When Suspicious Betting Is Identified?
Betting companies are keen to avoid situations in which they pay out on bets that have been placed under suspicious circumstances. For this reason, should such a bet be flagged up on a bookmaker’s system, numerous actions can be taken. The first thing that most bookies will do is request further information from a punter, with the aim being to identify whether or not the bet is indeed suspicious.
Bookmakers will almost certainly suspend payment of any winnings for a bet that they deem to be suspicious, they may even suspend or limit the account. They will keep the payout suspended until such a point at which they feel satisfied that the bet is not a suspicious one. Companies can usually only hold on to money for 30 days, but this can be extended for a reasonable period pending an investigation. This can be by the company, a sporting governing body, a gambling regulator or a legal organisation.
Should a customer or customers be suspected of being involved in suspicious betting, companies will often suspend their accounts and even refer them to the likes of the police. Accounts can be shut altogether on occasions when customers are suspected of being involved in collusion, fraud, cheating and so on. Bets will usually be made void and companies put it in their terms and conditions that they’re not responsible for any losses incurred when suspicious betting has occurred.
Of course, as with many other things in life innocent people often get caught up in the process. If a syndicate has recruited a load of people to bet on a fixed event then there are no doubt innocent people who happen to bet on the same event unknowingly. Unfortunately this can mean these people also end up with payments withheld under investigation. Ultimately, though, that person should eventually get paid out, or at least their stake back, if there is no wrong doing.
Tennis In 2015
In 2016, it was revealed that nearly three-quarters of all bets that were flagged as suspicious occurred on tennis matches. Back when the International Betting Integrity Association was known as ESSA, the watchdog looked at betting patterns that didn’t seem to be entirely legit. 100 such events were identified in 2015, of which 73 were placed on the sport of tennis and the matches played within it.
The report resulted in the flagging up of 24 tennis matches, which compared unfavourably with eight football matches and one each of greyhound races, an ice hockey match and a snooker match. The tennis matches were played across five continents, with one of them taking place in the United Kingdom. It was a major concern for tennis as a sport, which launched its own investigation as a result.
European Football Not Clean
In the first quarter of 2021, the Global Lottery Monitoring System flagged up European football as the sport that endured the most suspicious bets being placed on it. During the first three months of the year, the GLMS flagged 323 bets worthy of investigation, with 160 of them coming from Europe. Asia was the next highest on the list with 66, whilst South America had 58 such bets.
Of the 323 alerts, 188 of them were put into the category of being ‘green alerts’ which meant that they were related to the likes of starting line-up news, incorrect starting prices or an owner or sponsor of a sports club being involved in the placing of the bet. A further 67 of the alerts were ‘yellow’, which related to something such as the structure of a tournament or rumours of match-fixing being report by newspapers or websites.
There were only 13 red alerts, which is when the likes of a rumour of match-fixing is confirmed by a trustworthy source. This is normally then combined with a change in the volume of bets as well as an unexplained change in the odds. eSports were responsible for the most suspicious bets in Asia, which is perhaps no surprise given both the popularity of the event in the country as well as the susceptibility of players to bribes, leaks and so on.
Organisations such as the Global Lottery Monitoring System and the International Betting Integrity Association work hard on the integrity of competitions in order to ensure that suspicious betting is not rewarded. Regardless of the sport that is involved, bettors will always try to find a way to get one over one bookmakers, but sometimes they do is in a manner that is against both the spirit and the rules of the competition.