An event to watch out for at the Olympics: online games

While the 2012 Olympics are special, one aspect stands out. This is the first time the organizers have made every effort to prevent one of the 302 events from being corrupted by the worldwide explosion of online sports betting. In March the International Olympic Committee began an effort to follow the online gaming industry for unusual signs of betting that could indicate whether athletes or IOC officials are bribed to fix a match or alter aspects of a game event during live betting.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “There is a new danger – corruption, match-fixing and illegal betting. His words should serve as a warning to the many states. The integrity of both amateur and professional sport can be jeopardized with the growing ease – and corruptibility – of online betting by organized crime. Worldwide, at least 308 sports matches were rigged in 2011. This number has increased, as sports betting has almost tripled worldwide over the past decade, largely through the Internet.

Friedrich Stickler, president of the organization European Lotteries said: “Corruption is perhaps the most serious threat to sport today. “He estimates that a quarter of sports betting operators are illegal. The European Commission announced in June that the risk of fraud in sports competitions had been exacerbated by online betting, posing a risk to the integrity of the sport. It is estimated that 7 million Europeans today play online, many of them young men who play sports.

The London Olympics are the first event where bettors can bet on the 26 sports. IOC officials say they do not expect the corruption of athletes, but only one case is needed to cast a shadow over the fairness of the games. That’s why officials are trying to control the influence of online gambling.

Regulators of European gambling are hampered by gaming revenue dependency. But they also see the danger to sport if the new industry is not slowed down properly. “We must take into account the minimum rules on conflicts of interest, perhaps with a ban on certain types of gambling or the creation of more rigorous control systems,” explains Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the market inside.