These days, with so many governing bodies and specialist operators monitoring suspicious betting patterns and the like, it feels increasingly implausible that match fixing still goes on.
With more and more bookmakers offering odds on niche sports and low-key events, the possibility of match fixing increases exponentially – still, it’s good news if you backed over 94.5 goals in the big Sierra Leone Eastern Regional Super 10 League contest between Kahula Rangers and Lumbenbu United…
But in all seriousness, what does happen to your bets if the event you have wagered upon turns out to be fixed?
There’s different types of match fixing.
There’s those times where an individual player takes it upon themselves to change the outcome of a game, such as in tennis or cricket – Pakistan bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, in a scam coordinated by captain Salman Butt, deliberately bowled no balls for cash on their team’s tour of England back in 2010.
Then there are other times when representatives from both teams can collude on a satisfactory outcome – and sadly even officials and referees have been investigated for match fixing.
Organisations like IBIA and ESSA are able to identify suspicious betting patterns from the quantity and size of bets placed on seemingly inauspicious outcomes, and it is in those cases where punters may unknowingly be on the end of a fix themselves.
Do I Have to Pay Back Winning Bets On Fixed Matches?
It’s worth remembering that all bets are settled based upon the official result.
And so no, you don’t have to pay back any winnings you may have with bets that, it later transpires, have occurred in fixed matches or those under suspicion.
Even if it later turns out that the game/race you have bet on has been fixed in some way, there’s still no recourse for your bets to be cancelled – therefore, you will be paid out as a winner based upon the official result.
Will I Get My Money Back If I Bet On a Fixed Match?
Unfortunately, the above works both ways.
So, if you are the victim of a fixed game or race, and your bet has lost as a result, then sadly there is no legal recourse available to you to force your bookmaker to pay out a refund.
Of course, some firms are more likely to refund you as an act of ‘goodwill’ than others, but as mentioned there’s no rule in the Gambling Act (the legislation governing betting in the UK) that says they must pay you back.
You can always contact them directly if you wish, but don’t expect a positive reply.
Match Fixing In Action
Even the top level of sport is not immune to match fixing.
Serie A champions Juventus were embroiled in a fix that saw them stripped of their title, relegated to Serie B and deducted 30 points for their part in the ‘Calciopoli’ scandal. Other giants of Italian football, including AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina, were also involved.
English football, potentially, isn’t immune either. Early in 2022, there was an investigation launched after Arsenal star Granit Xhaka was booked in a Premier League game against Leeds United amid a flurry of suspicious bets.
Sadly, the lower-tier tours in tennis seem to be rife with fixing, based on the findings of IBIA, but it has also crept into the senior-level as well. Novak Djokovic once claimed he was offered £140,000 to lose a game at the St. Petersburg Open, while chair umpire and line judge Lorenzo Chiurazzi was banned for more than seven years for corruption.
Horse racing has experienced some corruption over the years too. Typically in these cases, horses are given performance-enhancing stimulants to improve their speed and stamina, but other acts of fraud have taken place: in the US in the 1970s, mob gangster Anthony Ciulla bribed jockeys with cash or threatened them with physical intimidation to get them to slow their horses down.
A fascinating article in Wired reveals that, between 2009 and 2019, a staggering 4,145 sporting events were detectably suspicious, and no doubt more than that have actually been fixed under the radar in some way.
Unfortunately, this is not a stain on sporting integrity that appears to be going anywhere soon.