ARF Council Publishes "The State of Illegal Betting" Report

ARF Council Publishes "The State of Illegal Betting" Report

ARF Council Publishes "The State of Illegal Betting" Report

The Asian Racing Federation Council on Anti-illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime (“the ARF Council”) released today (18 May, 2022) a new publication: “The State of Illegal Betting”.

The State of Illegal Betting report examines the current situation of illegal betting, what this means in relation to legal betting, and what both will look like in the future. The report includes analysis of more than 500 betting websites to examine their licensing status, products offered, website traffic, server locations and other data points. Notably, the report shows that:

  • 61% of betting websites are either under-regulated or unlicensed (i.e. illegal in most countries), and only 39% are licensed and regulated;
  • three jurisdictions (Curacao, Malta, Philippines) are responsible for 62% of the licences for online betting that are under-regulated (i.e. illegal in most countries);
  • traffic to illegal and legal betting websites has grown by 37% from 2019/20 to 2020/21; and
  • traffic growth during the pandemic is much greater in under-regulated / unlicensed = illegal betting markets vs regulated and legal (+64% increase vs +36%).

The report also includes a series of commentaries from ARF Council members on how sports data can fuel illegal betting; the greater negative impacts of illegal betting and gambling-related harm; international and intergovernmental issues around corruption in sport; and notable examples and development in sports law in relation to illegal betting.  The report also includes contributions from INTERPOL and the UNODC regarding their views on the relationship between illegal betting, sports corruption, and organised crime.

In launching the report, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation, said:

The State of Illegal Betting report is intended to assist government policy-makers, regulators, law enforcement officers and those involved in the governance and management of horse racing and other sports, as well as people in the racing and betting industries, to comprehend the current scale, scope and harm to society of illegal betting and related financial crime.

Licensed and well-regulated betting operators provide essential financial support to the sport of racing via levies, betting duty and other support payments.

The report points out that the globalised growth of illegal betting results in major threats to the integrity of racing and other sports, the growth of transnational organised crime, and gambling harm to customers. It is clearer than ever that illegal betting is a major current global social problem that requires continued attention.

Martin Purbrick, Chairperson of the Asian Racing Federation Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, said:

The State of Illegal Betting provides a most comprehensive insight into illegal betting as a major threat to integrity in racing and other sports, as a challenge to effective regulation of legal betting (which is being obfuscated by countries issuing licences falsely purporting to have international coverage), as a criminal justice problem as organised crime groups profit from illegal betting, and as a social problem causing greater problem gambling.

Other key findings in The State of Illegal Betting

Horse racing remains a significant betting product available on approximately 36% of all betting websites, with racing from ARF member jurisdictions featuring on 82% of these; and football, basketball and tennis remain the most prevalent sports for global betting.

Notably, most (81%) sports betting websites offer many more products than just sports betting. E-sports is now available on 63% of all websites – this is significant, given this product’s particular appeal to younger demographics thus potentially attracting young people to underage and/or illegal betting.

Global demand for online betting thus continues to accelerate faster than some stakeholders’ understanding of key issues – and illegal betting is growing in popularity much faster than Licensed and Regulated betting, a fact that should concern both those Licensed and Regulated operators but also authorities in racing and other sports, government regulators and other stakeholders.

As well as website analysis, the Report features key commentaries from Council members, drawing on their vast expertise in areas such as betting analysis and monitoring, racing investigations, problem gambling research, sports integrity and sports law and law enforcement.

Key findings include the fact that so-called ‘white-label’ licensing is a key weak spot in even some well-regulated markets, enabling illegal betting operators to, in effect, portray themselves – typically to customers in areas where online betting is illegal or heavily restricted – as licensed operators in respected regulatory regimes such as the United Kingdom.

This blurring of the lines has significant impact on consumers, who cannot tell what is legal or illegal in their jurisdictions. This is not only a fine legal distinction but has damaging impacts on users and wider society, since illegal websites are associated with greater gambling harm than legal.

Report Download:

For more information, contact:

James Porteous, Research Head, ARF Council


No items found.


All Posts