ESSA says European bookmakers are winning war against match fixers

By Bookmakers Review09 June 2013
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ESSA says European bookmakers are winning war against match fixers

The European Sports Security Association recently published its annual integrity report announcing that European bookmakers are winning the war against match fixers.

Using sophisticated risk assessment and security protocols to analyze millions of bets taken every week by the online bookmakers members of the organization, in 2012 ESSA discovered 109 suspicious betting patterns, of which only 6 were found to be of sufficient concern for a referral to the relevant sporting and regulatory authorities for further investigation.

Just like it did in 2010 and 2011, ESSA was keen to point in the integrity report that its approach had been particularly successful in driving the criminals away from Europe’s highly regulated market, creating a safe and secure environment for European bettors.

ESSA states: "In short, corruptors are generally steering clear of ESSA’s well-regulated and vigilant sports betting operators, because a perfect audit trail would be created meaning criminals would be leaving a ‘digital fingerprint’ that would lead back to them."

On the myth of limiting the betting markets: "Corruptors actually seek to manipulate the more mainstream markets with higher liquidity, which clearly could not be banned, and any attempt to do so would have the undesirable effect of pushing consumers towards the unregulated market, which is not transparent and would be virtually impossible to monitor."

And again: "Match-fixers bet primarily on the Asian market, which is often unregulated and as such is not subject to any restrictions. There is  no evidence to support limits on regulated betting markets, which would be an unjustified  restriction on trade, based on unsubstantiated integrity grounds."

While ESSA, through its integrity report, is telling mainstream media that European bookmakers are winning the war against match fixing, and personally I have no doubt that to be the case, ESSA members continue to confiscate player winnings justifying their actions with a lie: "ESSA is investigating the match".

In the latest case, Unibet confiscated 1600 euros in in-play winnings from a player that placed a number of bets on an Estonia II Liiga match between Keskerakond vs Tallinna Talev II.

The player told Bookmakers Review that when he saw the match was 0-4, he bet on the over 6.5, 7.5, 9.5 and 10.5 goals and eventually won all of his bets as the match ended 1-18.

An unexpected result, just like unexpected was what happened to the player thereafter with Unibet confiscating his winnings.

Unibet, a ESSA founding member, claims "the match in question is being investigated by ESSA due to potential betting irregularities."

Except that ESSA doesn't have investigative powers. The European Sports Security Association can only refer its suspicions of irregular betting patterns to the sport or league's governing body.

Bookmakers Review contacted Unibet to receive some feedback on the case and possibly a date the player could look forward to as the "end of the investigation", instead after we pointed out to the Unibet representative that according to ESSA's own stats it was most likely a false alarm, we received a snarky remark: "If indeed it is a false alarm then that's good news for the customer."

While the customer has to hope to receive some good news from an investigation that is not even taking place, Bookmakers Review remind its readers that Unibet is rated at 2 and is in BMR Red list.

This case is to this day a confiscation of winnings without a valid justification, further adding to the confiscation of winnings generated by bonuses for which Unibet is well known and Red-listed.

Stay away from Unibet.

Pierluigi Buccioli