One should always bear in mind that the really big manipulations only became conceivable because there was a growing betting market on which very large bets could gradually be made, which could also be interesting for “big investors”. One could almost say that wherever very large amounts are staked, fraudsters are almost automatically attracted who try to secure a part of these stakes in an illegal, i.e. fraudulent way.
One part of the possible high turnover was made possible by the Asian betting market spilling over here. (Since the turn of the millennium, this market has had an increasingly large and growing influence). The only thing that can be said about this market is that the provider keeps out of it as much as possible with his own risk. Due to the variable odds, the provider balances the stakes in such a way that, if possible, he comes out with positive returns for all game outcomes. In the case of manipulated games, it can occasionally happen that he has to dip into his own pocket, but usually only with smaller amounts, since the betting market is watched very closely (by the provider) and conspicuous turnovers – long before betradar – are already intercepted. Everyone is their own boss there. And: everyone accepts these regularities.
This is how it came about that the particularly large manipulations could only take place on the market, which has (almost) unlimited money as well as odds that are as unchangeable as possible. The only provider that fulfilled these requirements was the state provider Oddset.
Accordingly, Oddset had to pay a lot of dues due to this inconceivable naivety (the author is aware of several cases long before Hoyzer in which this naivety was exploited, sometimes to the tune of millions in winnings by professional players who did nothing more than punish this stupidity).
Oddset now offered the odds guarantee at one time, i.e. fixed odds, as well as the payout, guaranteed up to a certain, but for bettors still reliable degree. This was now like the land of milk and honey for cheats, who in detail did not even have to feel that way. The state was so stupid that one could almost have guaranteed that this would happen one day, i.e. that it would be cheated in a very tangible way.
The outcry was of course all the louder. Only it would have been enough, before going to this market (the famous shark tank), that one first familiarised oneself with a few market realities. The stupidity of not doing so provoked all the betting scandals, so to speak.
Betradar is a silly consequence. Because: as long as you act with market-driven odds and reasonable levels of accepted stakes – and thus payouts – you can pretty reliably nip such large-scale manipulations in the bud. How can you cheat if there is no one who guarantees the payout, not even very high stakes?
Nevertheless, games are still being manipulated here and there, as the recent past (2007) showed.
Here is another list of interesting questions in this context:
- what kind of game are we talking about?
- what was the match about?
- what kind of manipulation is it supposed to be?
- how is the betting done?
- how much money can be made?
- who are the injured parties?
- what are the sporting consequences and the consequences for sport?
- How can manipulation be avoided in the future?
1) What kind of game are we talking about?
If there is to be talk of “cheating” or “manipulation”, one must first look at what kind of games could be affected, selected. A clear distinction has to be made whether we are talking about very small, small, medium or large games. Small games are more at risk because the people involved, i.e. referees, players, coaches, managers, are more susceptible to “side earnings” because they often do not have a particularly high income themselves, so the amounts to be earned may exceed their own salary or at least sound tempting. Small games are all games below the professional level.
In medium games, it is already the case that participants are exposed to greater risks. The games are much better observed, more spectators, sometimes also officials (referee observers!), sometimes also recorded in moving pictures. In addition, the participants have their own careers that they could jeopardise, and last but not least, the incomes are already in dimensions where a small extra income is no longer a particular enticement, also because of the risks.
In big games, there is quite a lot of concern about whether manipulation can occur. This could only happen in the final phase of a championship, where the decisions have already been made.
Re 2) What is the game about?
Of course, games where sporting objectives are not at risk are particularly suitable. So if it’s late in the championship, where the season’s goals may already have been achieved, then manipulation is much more likely to happen (but this was already the case in times when there was no betting; see Gladbach – Dortmund, 13:0). Then it can also happen (be) in big games. It is also possible in the Champions League, as it happens often enough that some teams are eliminated or hopeless towards the end in the group stage, apart from the fact that smaller teams can be there that have no sporting prospects and smaller incomes to boot.
Re 3) What kind of manipulation is it supposed to be?
The biggest weakness continues to be the referees. In football, they basically have sole control and are almost free to decide the outcome of a match. Since it is usually only about a goal, which can be disallowed or recognised without consequences, it is in the power of the referee to determine the outcome of a game. Here a penalty is given, there not. Here an offside is recognised, there it is allowed to continue – the game is decided. And no one who takes a closer look at the man in black: “He must have seen it differently” or “He was wrong here” or “He should have given a penalty” is all you get to read/hear about it. Next week he will be back on the pitch.
The active players, on the other hand, cannot guarantee a match outcome, at least not individually, at most collectively. The coach could even, if it is a maximum of three, take these three off the pitch if he is not happy with the performance. As individuals, only goalkeepers who let one through here or there would be suitable. Only the coach would be able to react there as well. Especially for the next game.
If it should be a case of collusion between the teams, the number of connivances is already so large that the risks already do not justify the amounts to be won in prospect. If such a thing happens, it will be in very small games (and in fairly eastern countries…).
Re 4) How is betting done?
Due to the Asian handicap, the betting offers have not only become more diverse but also more opaque, which in any case favours manipulation.
First of all, a fundamental distinction must be made between betting on the outcome of the match and betting on the number of goals. Betting on the number of goals has become much more popular in recent years, as it is especially popular in Asia. Live betting is also on the rise. In the meantime, very high amounts can be placed there.
The classic 1-X-2 market has been displaced by the Asian market, at least certainly for big players. This means that game outcomes are now only bet with two sides. And no longer in the sense of “win” or “lose”, but in the sense of the Asian handicap. The handicap is set in such a way that, if possible, it makes both outcomes equally likely. The goal handicap is thus intended to equalise the difference in playing strength in the specific match. The idea behind this is that both sides are equally attractive to the bettor. There is no longer the clear favourite who “wins for sure”, but it suddenly depends on how much he wins. In balanced games the handicap is small, in very unbalanced games it is high. The odds are usually about the same on both sides, which was the basic idea, to ensure equal chances.
But since football is a game with very few goals, the handicap has to be increased in very small steps. These steps are quarter-goal steps. So a game can be totally even, in which case the handicap is 0. If you bet on a game with a 0 handicap, there are three possible outcomes, which distinguishes this type of bet from previous ones: Either the betting team wins, in which case the bet is paid out in full, still as stake * odds. If the team loses, the money is gone, as before. If the match ends in a draw, however, the bet is at par and you get your money back.
If the game is not quite even, then one team is a quarter-goal favourite in the next step. The implications of this are just different possible outcomes of the bet. If you play the favourite with a quarter goal deficit, you still win the bet if the team wins. You also lose the bet if the team loses. Only if the match ends in a draw, then there is a new form of settlement: you lose half the bet, i.e. half the stake. From the point of view of the person playing the underdog in the match, it looks like this: If his team wins: full profit. If his team loses: Full loss. If the game ends in a draw: half a win. This means that he gets half the stake times the odds paid out as a profit, and he gets the other half of the stake back.
The implications in the betting market are that: First of all, it is a moving market. This means that high stakes are accepted, but when they come in, the odds are immediately adjusted. The equal appeal to both sides ensures that there are bettors interested in one side and those interested in the other (this is only in contrast to the traditional bettor, who usually only takes bets on clear favourites). It is this balance that makes the high stakes possible in the first place, and that is why the Asian market has become so popular here in Europe.
This explains why it is possible to play so high on the Asian market at all, which is what makes manipulation so tempting in the first place.
In addition, there is an effect that is not really noticed in this country: The handicap, which compensates for the differences in playing strength, can lead to betting offers in which one team wins in the sporting sense but loses in the sense of the handicap. So if the handicap is over a goal high, then the favourite may well win by a goal difference, which guarantees him sporting success, but at the same time also pockets all the bets on the betting market, if placed. For these would be wisely placed on the opponent. This new quality of possible manipulation has the advantage, from the point of view of those carrying it out, that they can clear their consciences. Because the victory celebration does not have to be cancelled, on the contrary, one can celebrate twice. Money in and game won!
Betting on the number of goals works the same way with the Asian handicap. There is a “line”, a target number of goals, and you can bet on “over” and “under”, i.e. more or less than the specified “line”. The settlement of such bets is analogous to the above. However, it is obvious to me here that the bets on this are no longer directly related to the sporting goals, which makes manipulation much more likely, more possible. One can bet with a “clear conscience”, so to speak.
To 5) In what orders of magnitude can be earned?
It depends, of course, on the size of the match. For smaller games, one can assume that one can hardly earn more than 20,000, at most 30,000 euros, which then have to be divided among the bettors. Simply because not enough bettors participate in these bets. And: more experienced bettors avoid games where there are drastic price developments.
In big games, the amounts certainly go much higher. However, the players and other participants also move in other dimensions. If one were to be clever about it, however, one could certainly earn 500,000 euros, perhaps more, on a single Premier League match. But here too: Risk and reward are not in a healthy relationship, not for the players. The weak point remains the referees.
6) Who are the injured parties?
The injured parties are logically the small players. In the Asian market, where the big sales are made, the suppliers have their own “early warning system”. These are the cash receipts. If something conspicuous happens there, there are drastic price changes. Later, the handicaps are changed. If the providers do not receive any money on the other, presumably “wrong”, i.e. presumably losing side (remember that there is talk of manipulated games) – despite changed handicaps or increased odds – people already know how to interpret this. Either games are then completely removed from the offer or the odds and handicaps are further changed. In the case of small games, however, even manageable amounts are sufficient for drastic price changes, because the provider does not want to put himself at (too high) risk.
Now, however, one effect must be taken into account urgently: First of all, with exotic or very small games, even small amounts are enough to trigger price collapses. Of course, this can be caused by manipulation. However, it is also possible that a price drop is only interpreted by conscientious market observers as an unmistakable indication of manipulation. They may then simply play the side on which the price fall was observed, irrespective of the price. These are the so-called free riders. If, however, the cause was misinterpreted and it was not manipulation at all but only betting passion or a tiny information advantage of individual market participants, the free riders are simply playing at missed prices. This is completely irrelevant for the market. For the provider, this is a welcome side effect. However, the consequence from the provider’s point of view is as follows: All in all, we do not really have a bad experience with these absurd price developments. On the whole, we do not make a loss, on the contrary. So there is no reason to change behaviour. The ruble rolls, mostly in the desired direction. Why even think about it? These providers know very well that manipulation exists. Only: if they profit more from it than it causes harm, why react? On individual games, there may be losses. That is not a problem. Otherwise, the injured party is the individual small to medium player who thinks he is clever.
One must also urgently take into account that the game outcomes can often be manipulated, but not guaranteed. Theoretically, three players on a team agree to let the opponent win. Depending on the absurdity of their playing behaviour, the coach may also be able to influence this by making substitutions. But even otherwise, the other 8 players can “iron it out” and still win. This means that the course development and handicap change may simply correspond to reality. That means that the small course or the high handicap, which is on offer, reflects the actual distribution of chances. This means that the bettors who are still betting on it no longer have any advantage, which plays into the provider’s hands again.
There is even another possible effect: the provider could simply change his prices according to gusto, just to test the gambling behaviour. This means that a price development is not based on bets at all, so these are only suggested, but the free riders are to be steered towards the idea of manipulation. In this way, amounts are lured to the wrong or bad side, which in turn guarantees even higher profits for the provider.
It is even conceivable that a planned manipulation is concealed by actually playing the wrong side for a while. This brings about a possibly chaotic market reaction in which high turnovers can be the result, which are placed on this game. Another consequence is that the limits go up. One could exploit something like this on the betting market by either placing the other side on the rising limits before the match, or on live bets, i.e. during the match.
One thing is certain: the only people who get hurt are those who want to make money themselves, think they are clever and are simply at the mercy of the big players in this big business. This is comparable to the real stock market. The small investor just kind of floats along and doesn’t really know what is happening with his money. The confidence he brings with him is, however, maintained as far as possible by all the economic bosses who hold the reins in their hands. In his mind, he invests in “stable values”. This may be a small difference to the betting market.
The aggrieved party, who is now declared worthy of protection, is basically the one on whom society – especially in our country – points the finger. “If you want to bet, you want to cheat” is the standard phrase we grow up with. “Betting? Just keep your hands off! It will inevitably bring ruin.” Everyone who participates in the betting market has to bear the responsibility for his or her money stakes. And I think everyone is aware of it too. So: not participating is always an option and basically the advice that 99% of the population would give you. And in this case, for once, I have to agree with the 99%….
Re 7) What are the sporting consequences and the consequences for the sport?
Certainly, the trust of the paying spectator – and that is basically all of us – has been shaken. At the same time, however, the spectator is the supporting force for the whole commodity of sport, especially football, which must be preserved. Nevertheless, it is clear that the games affected so far are still so insignificant that there is no real need to fear the negative consequences of the loss of confidence.
The sporting consequences are that seasonal goals may be missed in some cases, which could give rise to claims by the clubs. However, this would only be conceivable in the case of known referee interference, but then with unforeseeable consequences. Who is supposed to come up with the unearned 2 million?
8) How can manipulation be avoided in the future?
The very big weak point of referees should only be commented on briefly here: In our own opinion, the referees are treated too leniently when it comes to decisive mistakes. A goal that was obviously correctly scored is completely played down, even though it has no less effect than a goal that is not recognised. But the latter happens very rarely, which means that there are very few goals at all – there is an accepted reason for every disallowance – and that a single goal decides a game. In this respect, Christoph Daum is right in his (much ridiculed) remark that match officials are increasingly becoming match deciders. That is the truth. An El Dorado for manipulation.
Otherwise, one should trust in the self-purification of the market. Those who simply bet their money at will or out of sheer gambling pleasure on any events they have no idea about will either become smart in time and leave it alone, or will eventually run out of money. Later, the clever ones can try to steal from each other…