On the one hand, it is virtually a matter of course that I have to talk about it at some point. On the other hand, it is also the case that one has to be extremely careful with any form of accusation as well as we talk about “cheating”. So I have to keep myself reasonably “neutral” if possible, but I am happy to describe a few observations, reflections and also practical examples on the subject.
In addition, there is another aspect that I think is often underestimated, especially by the media. Even as a child, I wondered why every potential “criminal” was given such wonderful instructions in the extremely popular television programme “Aktenzeichen XY… unsolved” were given. Even my childish mind told me of the lurking danger: the copycats who could get such a valuable clue on how to carry out a guaranteed successful scam. I don’t even know if the makers of the programme were hiding behind the flimsy argument of “warning against such fraud”. For me, ratings and sensationalism clearly took precedence over common sense here.
Likewise, I am absolutely not interested in the spread of betting fraud. But since I am definitely interested in spreading this present work, I also depend on the thread. However, I do have a couple of what I think are better reasons for doing so here. One is that the scammers would always have to win someone’s money. And making a bet is, at least in terms of behaviour, reasonably consistent and not comparable to “open the door when the crook rings” or “where to put the handbag on the bus”. What I want to say is that the dangers in the real world are very diverse and rather helpful for the perpetrators to be presented with this diversity. Whereas in betting it’s always the same: I bet or I don’t. That affects both sides. Whether a bet is “reasonable” or even “good” is subject to different criteria.
Another reason, which seems to me almost more weighty, is that I may assume that the very large-scale fraud has at least been successfully contained for the moment. I would like to present to you here how I arrived at this view. For the time being, I will confine myself to football.
In the chapter “Dubious Games”, I examined some games that certainly had a dubious/curious background. However, most of the examples were selected in such a way that they did not have a very close connection to the betting market.
1) Vlado Kasalo
Except for the Gladbach – Uerdingen match (in “Dubious Matches”), where an angry Uwe Leifeld complained on camera that he couldn’t bet a penny on the X at an Austrian provider in the obviously agreed draw in the match, this was the first example where the fraud was exposed (and even punished).
The Nuremberg player Vlado Kasalo had caused two Nuremberg defeats in 1991 with two curious own goals in two consecutive games. I can still see at least the one scene in front of me and have to say: if he had been a striker for the opposing team, it would have been quite a feat. He circled the ball into his own net with the back of his head.
That aroused too much suspicion. Especially since it came out internally that he had already become conspicuous in other respects and had gambled in illegal casinos, in addition to having high debts. The public prosecutor investigated. His licence was revoked and he fled to Croatia, but surprisingly returned to the 2nd Bundesliga (1994; Mainz 05). The fraud in this case was never proven beyond doubt.
Nevertheless, the circumstantial evidence is a bit too striking for me. In principle, one has to assume that he had placed money, certainly via straw men, on a defeat of his team (according to one version I heard at the time, he was even put under pressure to ensure a defeat).
If you want to hear my personal assessment: the amounts to be won could not have been excessive at all. At that time, betting was done, if at all, in England and in Austria. The betting offices I knew all accepted sums of a manageable size. I can hardly imagine more than DM 20,000 that was “raked in” by the (possible) fraud….
A little story from a bookmaker friend from Austria: once a messenger came to his office with 8,000 DM in a plastic bag, which he wanted to place on a game. Of course, my friend didn’t take the bet. The man only came that day and never before or after. So you can see how hard it is for the cheaters….
2) In the early days at the Asian market.
a. the switched off floodlights
Personally, even in this early phase (mid-90s), I had no real idea of the fraud possibilities and the dimensions. People knew about some “dubious games”, but usually attributed this to the intentions of the teams. In the past, there were often enough matches in the category “must vs. don’t need”, in which the expected result was certainly often in favour of the team that had to. That had nothing to do with betting fraud. Whether this was occasionally “exploited” on the betting market in the early days is beyond my knowledge. However, I am sure of one thing: the “scammed” amounts were small.
A new order of magnitude came in when the Asian betting market spread here. The Asians may already have a reputation here or there for gambling somewhat crazily, but in football, at least here, this was not yet known. In addition, through the betting system described in the chapter “The Betting Market”, they achieved a balance of turnover that simply had to work in the provider’s favour.
However, this story here took place before the giant wave spilled over into Europe. The Asian providers, for their part, were still rather small and did not yet know their way around.
But one thing was known: in English betting shops there was a rule that soon changed, but which could be made use of: a game in which the second half is whistled is also evaluated with the then current result for the payment of the bets if it is abandoned.
Some resourceful Malaysian electricians took advantage of this circumstance: within a very short time, the floodlights suddenly went out in several matches during the second half. The suspicion then really fell on “Malaysian betting syndicates”. What could ever be proven there, I don’t know. Nor can what I am saying be described as anything more than a suspicion. But it was striking and curious in any case.
b. the high turnover
The Asian market was spreading, the tsunami wave was spilling over. It was only a matter of time before some people realised that it was possible to place high to very high bets on the market there. This certainly led some people to think seriously about whether they could profit from it in some way.
So let’s say you knew in advance how a match would turn out: how much money could you make with that knowledge? By the way, this question had been on my mind for a long time before, regardless of the possibility of achieving this by cheating. Not only the “how much” but also the “how to do it”. I had it more as a fantasy, like: “Imagine a fairy comes to you and tells you that Hertha will take the lead on Saturday in the 7th minute” or something like that. How could I use this knowledge as effectively as possible and how much could I then win?
Well, that was the one part you had to think about carefully. “How much is in it?” Then the other question is “how do I organise it?” and the third is “how big is the risk?” The rest of my comments are nothing but speculation, I stress that again. So you have to have sufficient betting credit available and enough accounts to play with. Then one still has to hope that the organiser actually accepts the amounts in the order of magnitude that one imagines. You might worry a little less about “not getting busted”. But one simply assumes that one is in agreement with the opponent as far as the outcome of the game is concerned.
So in the early days, the amounts that could be accommodated were much higher than they would be today. One part of the reasoning is that in some leagues the organiser just wasn’t too afraid of cheating and might have taken the risk themselves. The other part is the other players who can “pick up” a considerable amount with the counter-bets, because they themselves are not afraid of cheating either.
The cheaters or would-be cheaters thus realised that one could — probably in the early days — win 100,000 euros, maybe even up to 500,000 euros, with one game. I can hardly imagine much more (because: who is supposed to pay for that, who has so much money?). But even for that, a considerable amount of effort is required. Apart from the inevitable risk of being exposed (with many confidants). And the non-achievement of sporting goals, the continuation of one’s career in the case of poor team or own performance, all aspects that run counter to cheating.
On top of that, the burnt children shy away from the fire. So anyone who has once lost his money through a scam – even an imaginary one – becomes more cautious and risks nothing more. That is the death sentence for the cheat. He still knows how the game will turn out, but he can no longer use his knowledge. Not profitable, not sufficient, not given the risks involved. “Crime dont pay.” So the fraud no longer pays, it no longer happens.
But there were certainly quite a few games in Germany that “stank to high heaven” for me. And quite a few of them were also investigated or still have this stale aftertaste. I’m just glad it’s over.
At least this is a story that could be proven so far and the organiser was subsequently wanted by Interpol. In the process, a man is said to have bought an entire Finnish club (costing, as they say, several million nonetheless) in order to then be able to predict the results of this first division team. This went well for a few match days until the team lost 0:8. Then it all blew up.
4) Sturm Graz
This story is remarkable in that it was actually discussed on camera before the match. There was a suspicion that Sturm Graz would lose this game. The Austrian newspapers were already full of it that day (a mole?). The night before the game I was able to listen to discussions with club officials. And the gist of it was: “You can’t imagine it.”
Personally, I was so naive and actually played Sturm that they wouldn’t lose (the handicap was accordingly). I just couldn’t imagine it after that all-day discussion. However, only a small amount I was willing to risk.
Those who saw the game can only make one judgement: if it was cheating, it was exceedingly cleverly done. Sturm actually lost 1:2, but when asked about attitude and fighting spirit, they gave everything. And I really looked very closely. The dough was gone. But it wasn’t the only bet I lost. Was I cheated or not?
5) 1.FC Kaiserslautern – Eintracht Frankfurt
I also have very vivid memories of this game. Some suspicions had already arisen here in Germany. Some players were questioned, something was strange. The course also moved back and forth all day. After all, it was a 1st Bundesliga match. But it moved at a level where it never, ever belonged. So the suspicion was rather strengthened. Only he didn’t go further down on Frankfurt, he just wavered a bit at the flawed level. But Kaiserslautern were also in last place in the table, so that you could also say “they were out of form”, “there was something wrong with the team” or something like that. It was 14.12.2005. One simply could not or did not want to believe it. Especially since some of the players had already been interrogated.
So, long story short (by the way, it was a catch-up game, so there was only the one on that day): I let myself be tempted and played Kaiserslautern after all. The whole day I had this very strange feeling, an unbearable one, something like loathing or disgust. Then I had to endure the game. And even that couldn’t improve the feelings. You can lose any bet, but with this one the feeling was simply unbearable. There, I feel for sure, I was certainly cheated. And “ripped off” 10,000 euros. But who knows for sure? Only. Fire is really quite hot… Have you tried it?
6) So how do you really cheat?
I would like to emphasise once again that I am convinced that there is no manipulation on the betting market today, at least in the major leagues (today is 21.5.2009; this may change again). The effort required, also financially, is simply too great. Season goals can be missed, the players themselves already earn so well that it would hardly be worth it for them. Especially since entire careers can be ruined.
So if I nevertheless give “a little instruction” on cheating, then it is in the hope that the methods will not play a role in the games I am betting on, but that they will also possibly send out a little alarm signal, which the people in charge would also have to pay attention to. So there are a few ideas I would have myself if I were to plan “the perfect cheat”, as so often attempted in crime fiction.
a. The referees
One of the weak links is obviously the referees. They have a comparatively small income and bear a very large responsibility. What’s more, as a certain Robert Hoyzer was able to convincingly demonstrate to us, they have the possibility of actually “deciding a game on their own”. A single completely absurd decision, a storm of protest from the disadvantaged team, a sending-off. Then an offside goal by one team whistled down, one by the other recognised, a penalty awarded here, wiped away there. No one can make up for that. Even Schwarz Weiß Essen wins against Brazil.
So if you want to cheat, you’d have to go through the referees, that could be enough. Christoph Daum has come to the much ridiculed realisation that “referees are no longer match directors but match deciders”. He is right about that. Only he said it after his team had a goal disallowed. Hence the smile.
On the other hand, other officials must of course do everything possible to combat this weakness. At the very least, referees would also have to be held more accountable for clearly recognisable wrong decisions. I realise how difficult it is to referee a football match. Nevertheless, one has to take responsibility here and there. Actually, everything speaks for the professional referee.
By the way, a small but important hint: (advice to all cheaters: please read over) it does not make sense to completely decide a game by making blatant and obvious mistakes. If you had just a tiny tendency in favour of one team (“Ref, are you whistling more for the Reds or more for the Whites today?” “More for the Reds.”) then it is already enough to get an “advantage” from a betting point of view. Although you often have to accept a loss, you are more likely to have a permanent job.
This has certainly been tried a few times in the past. The goalkeeper simply lets through a goal here and there. Not a very effective method, in my opinion. The goalkeeper is soon replaced (be it in the next game) and can’t catch any more flies….
All these suggestions are guaranteed not to be a permanent means of making money. Nevertheless, recommended for “one-time use”: a defender bets on the opponent. Then one or two unfortunate defensive actions, dismissal, the rest must then be done by the remaining and thus overstrained teammates alone.
You certainly have an advantage. But will you win the bet? And what about your career? Apart from that, a few games of suspension can also prevent you from doing so. In addition, you can be fined by the club for “conduct detrimental to the team”.
The decisive advantage of this method? No confidants.
Well, as a striker you should probably refrain from this. The influence by “shooting a few tickets” is probably too small. They are more likely to be substituted if they miss a few shots. I once had a theory about our former national player Dieter Eckstein, who was once the top scorer: when he aimed for the left corner, the ball went in on the right and vice versa. His “shot accuracy” was pretty much exactly 7.32 metres. So I wouldn’t advise him to make such a bet, then he’s bound to make a hat-trick.
7) How do you act as a player?
The player here is of course the bettor himself. Personally, I have taken out leagues in which something has happened more often. These are usually smaller leagues where you don’t get such good information anyway. Apart from that, you soon learn to judge when a quota really “stinks to high heaven” and when it follows a normal basic assessment. Overall, I can only say that all players have certainly become more cautious since they know that manipulations have occurred here and there. This has triggered the self-cleaning process. The cheaters can no longer make enough money and let it go. Good thing.
I have to say at least a few words about tennis. Personally, I have included tennis in my programme. I have developed a powerful algorithm that should work perfectly in theory. There is a simple reason why it does not work as well as it should in practice: tennis is (was) manipulated more than football.
The reason for this is also obvious: tennis is an individual sport. No confidants. If you bet on your opponent and lose (you can even do it by giving up), you can pocket the money without any risk. The only problem is your own career. Apart from the fact that the money you win would at least have to make up for the lost prize money. And even that, analogous to football, is no longer quite so easy. The “burnt children” shy away from the fire. Those who have financed a fraud will certainly be more careful next time. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a private individual or a betting provider.
9) The betting exchanges in relation to betting fraud
The problem caused by the betting exchanges was the following: the provider, the intermediary of the bets, was guaranteed not to be at risk. This means that the fraud on a large scale had to be financed by a sum of small players. And their main problem is simply that they have no lobby. Someone who loses 10, 20, 50 or 100 euros has no chance to complain about it. And if it is a few thousands to whom this has happened: one has become “rich” and many small ones who do not (can) complain have provided him with the wealth.
Nevertheless, a self-cleansing process has also taken place here: the tennis players themselves have of course noticed that their whole sport is tottering. Sponsors are withdrawing, media coverage is dwindling, prize money is shrinking. Apart from the fact that one or the other has a dubious reputation attached to them for life. And all that for a few lousy dollars?
Nevertheless, the danger here is also much greater. Sometimes Challenger tournaments are offered where the prize money is still small. And for these players, winnings of 1000 or even 4000 euros can be very valuable.
Of course, the small players have reacted here as well. They don’t fall for cheap tricks like high price increases so easily. They simply don’t play any more, at least not “this game”.