Last updated 25 October 2021

Gambling on sporting events is estimated to be a $20 billion per year industry. Despite the gambling sector being regulated, questions are being asked about the integrity of Australian sport and the possibility of match fixing.

Racing industry

Notwithstanding some federal intervention, gambling is basically governed by state legislation. Horse and greyhound racing in Queensland is covered by the Racing Act 2002 (Qld) (Racing Act). The Racing Act governs the regulation of racing codes by establishing control bodies. In conjunction with this Act, the Wagering Act 1998 (Qld) also regulates the licensing and operations of bookmakers and the TAB, and provides for offences for certain other types of racing-related betting. Finally, the Racing Integrity Act 2016 (Qld) aims to safeguard the integrity of racing sports, primarily through the creation of an independent Racing Integrity Commission, as well as protecting the welfare of the animals involved in the industry.

Match fixing

In addition to traditional criminal sanctions for fraud (s 408C Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) (Criminal Code)), all Australian state and territory jurisdictions have specific offences related to match fixing. The Commonwealth Government also created the National Integrity of Sport Unit, which has now been absorbed into Sport Integrity Australia (the same body who is responsible for anti-doping).

The specific match-fixing offences in Queensland are found in ch 43 of the Criminal Code. It covers:

  • engaging in match-fixing conduct (s 443A)
  • facilitating match-fixing conduct or arrangement (s 443B)
  • offering a benefit or threatening a detriment to engage in match-fixing conduct (s 443C)
  • using or disclosing knowledge of match-fixing conduct or arrangement for betting (s 443D)
  • encouraging a person not to disclose match-fixing conduct or arrangements to authorities (s 443E)
  • using or disclosing inside knowledge for betting (s 443F).

‘Match-fixing conduct’ means any conduct that affects (or could reasonably be expected to affect) the outcome of a sporting event or the happening of sporting contingency. This definition covers the more recent markets in contingency betting (sometimes known as spot bets), where the bet is placed on the happening of certain micro-events within a match (e.g. whether a cricket bowler will bowl a no-ball or not). A player’s willingness to join a spot-fixing conspiracy may be greater as the corrupted contingency may not affect the overall result of the match.

There is no requirement for the fix to be successful. Conduct that could reasonably be expected to affect outcomes is still covered. Additionally, a person who engages in match-fixing conduct does not need to personally profit from doing so.

All of these provisions, except s 443F of the Criminal Code, carry a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.

The s 443F offence (using or disclosing inside knowledge for betting), is somewhat different to the other five because it is not match fixing per se. It is protecting the integrity of the gambling market against those with greater knowledge than the rest of the market, much the same way that insider trading laws seek to do that with trading in shares. Its maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.