Cryptocurrencies are making gambling on the world’s most popular sport easier, sports authorities suggest.
Asian soccer has seen a sharp decline in match-fixing over the last six years, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in a Reuters article dated Feb. 14. However, the illegal gambling which has historically driven match-fixing in the region has grown, partly due to the rise of cryptocurrencies as a payment method.
The AFC and its integrity partner, Swiss-based Sportradar, have been working together to tackle corruption in Asian Soccer since 2013.
Prior to this, a handful of large global syndicates operated the illicit gambling and match-fixing racket, but thanks to the AFC’s clean up efforts, this has now become the domain of lone-wolves and local gangs.
Oscar Brodkin, the director of intelligence and investigation services at Sportradar said, “With key figures being imprisoned or disrupted and very high-profile cases being discussed in the media, match-fixing over the last five years has become much more fragmented.”
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However, throughout this period, betting amounts have become larger, and traditional payment methods are being replaced by cryptocurrencies and even payment in kind. Brodkin said:
“We have observed an increase in adoption of cryptocurrency as a payment method for illegal activities and a medium to bet.”
Transparency International estimated the illicit gambling market in Asia to be worth around $400 billion in 2018. Gambling is technically illegal across most of the continent, including the most populous nations: mainland China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.