Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

One Event to Watch in 2012 Summer Olympics in London: Online Gambling

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

One Event to Watch in 2012 Summer Olympics in London: Online Gambling

Article excerpt

A global explosion of Internet gaming on sports has organizers of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London worried - to the point of tracking any unusual betting patterns on the Games. US states eager for online betting should heed these concerns.

While the 2012 Olympic Games are special in many ways, one aspect stands out. This is the first time that organizers have geared up to prevent any of the 302 events from being corrupted by the global explosion of online sports gambling.

In March, the International Olympic Committee began an effort to track the Internet gaming industry for signs of unusual betting patterns that might indicate whether athletes or IOC officials are being bribed to "fix" a match or alter aspects of an event during "live" betting.

"There is a new danger coming up that almost all countries have been affected by - and that is corruption, match-fixing and illegal gambling," says IOC president Jacques Rogge.

His words should serve as a warning to the many American states that are eager to launch Internet gambling: The integrity of both amateur and professional sports can be put in jeopardy with the increasing ease - and corruptibility - of online betting by organized crime.

Already in Asia many sports leagues have collapsed after fans learned of players or referees being on the take. And in Europe, which is the global hub of Internet gaming, regulators are scrambling to set down new rules to curb such fraud.

Worldwide, at least 308 sports matches were fixed in 2011. That number has risen as sports betting has nearly tripled worldwide over the past decade, driven largely by the Internet.

"Match-fixing is perhaps the most serious threat to sport today," says Friedrich Stickler, president of the European Lotteries. He estimates a quarter of sports-betting operators are illegal. …

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