We Hate Cheaters: How Does the UK Protect Gamblers From Match-Fixing?

Match-fixing is a common form of cheating across the world. Fortunately, the UK has strict laws in place to help protect us from it. Read on to find out how we tackle match-fixing in the UK. 

Do you like cheating?

Unless you’re a big old cheat yourself, you’re probably going to answer “No” to that question because who likes cheaters? No-one likes them, except for the cheaters themselves (…maybe…some of them probably hate themselves).

Match-fixing does happen in the UK, but it’s rare. Recently, we’ve heard about scandals in France and the US (twice!), but we’ve escaped pretty scandal-free lately.

Why are we so safe? Because the UK has laws in place to help protect us from this type of cheating, but more on that in a minute…

What is match-fixing?

First things first, what is match-fixing?

Historically, it means that someone, or a group of people, have decided what the results of a sports match will be before the game’s been played.

Someone will sabotage the match and ensure that one side loses.

Then, anyone who knows that someone’s going to throw the match can bet against the losing team. It’s a sure bet. They KNOW their bet will win.

So people can make a lot of money through match-fixing.

Today, we use the term to refer to any event that the bookies let you bet on, e.g., you can bet on the outcome of things like TV programmes, political races, and even Christmas Number 1s, all of which can theoretically be fixed.

What’s wrong with match-fixing?

Some people probably don’t see a problem with match-fixing because it tends to hurt the bookies and casinos more than anything. But it hurts gamblers too. You’re no longer betting on a genuine game/event, but a fake one where the results are predetermined.

It takes the fun out of gambling, and it makes gambling businesses paranoid and more reluctant to let you place interesting and fun bets.

Instead, they stick to the events where they know it’s harder to fix matches, e.g., huge organised sports, like the Superbowl.

A cartoon picture of a purple and white owl (purple is our website's brand colours). It's captioned with "I am a superb owl". I don't want to ruin the pun, but it's because I just mentioned Superbowl and that is the exact same spelling as Superb Owl.

 

Who protects us and how do they protect us?

It’s the responsibility of the Gambling Commission to protect gamblers from match-fixing in the UK. The Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU) is the department responsible for ensuring the integrity of betting in sports.

Gathering Intelligence

They work similarly to places like Mi5 and Mi6, collecting information and intelligence about potentially corrupt activities. It’s just that the intelligence they gather is related to betting.

The majority of their work concentrates on sports betting, but they do occasionally get information about outcome fixing for other events, such as reality TV programmes and talent contests.

Who tips them off?

They get information from a wide range of sources. These include intelligence from:

  • The bookies: when they see unusual betting activity, they may report their suspicions to the SBIU
  • Sport governing bodies: e.g., if FIFA thinks some of its players or managers are acting a bit crook, they might report it to the SBIU (and their equivalent in other countries)
  • The Public will also call in with information. SBIU has a special intelligence line where ordinary people can report their concerns.

What powers do they have?

The government is giving the Gambling Commission more and more powers within the gambling industry. They used to have an “all bark and no bite” reputation, and were seen as weak.

This is no longer the case. They now have laws under which they can prosecute match-fixing. The penalties include jail terms and hefty fines.

What can you do if you suspect match-fixing?

If you suspect match-fixing, you can contact the SBIU directly by email or by phone: