Gambling and the Olympics

The long awaited Olympic Games are here, and London will be in the spotlight for the next fortnight. Britain’s Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson, will be doing everything in his power to keep the event absolutely trouble free.

One of his fears is that the betting industry may influence athletes to fix the outcomes of the games they’re participating in. Spot-betting is one of his main concerns at the moment, where huge sums of money are bet on out-of-pattern incidents within the games.

This has therefore brought the gambling industry under a giant magnifying glass. An Intelligence unit has been set up by the Olympics security officials to keep a close eye on the betting syndicates.

This fear arises predominantly from match-fixing cases in the recent history of Sport. First there was Mervyn Westfield, a fast bowler from Essex, who admitted to accepting £6,000 to sabotage a match against Durham in 2009. He was jailed for four months.

The sensational trial and conviction of three Pakistani Cricketers for match-fixing during the 2010 Test match against England at Lord’s has added to those apprehensions.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) will be monitoring bets to keep all such devious practices at bay. They will be looking out for irregular betting patterns and suspicious contacts with participants. Athletes participating in the Olympics have been warned to stay away from game fixers.

One of the United Kingdoms biggest gambling operators has signed an agreement with the IOC in an effort to ensure the intergrity of the games. BetFair have previous history of monitoring behaviour at a large amount of sporting events and this combined with other precautions should ensure a mostly trouble free event.

It is unlikely that this hullabaloo will amount to much though. Extra precautions have been taken this year, and athletes will definitely not risk it for just the biscuit. With so much at stake, it is fair to say that we can expect genuine competition at these games.

After all, the medals and the prestige that comes with them are going to be worth much more than anything else for these athletes. Those with dishonorable interests wouldn’t be able to make it through the IOC’s deterrent sieve anyway. That is the theory in any event and we hope that the precautions set up to ensure an honest competition are enough.