Last updated 5 September 2016
Gambling on sporting events is estimated to be a $20 billion per year industry. Despite the gambling sector being regulated, the publicity given to the Australian Crime Commission’s paper Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport has led to questions being asked about the integrity of Australian sport and the possibility of match fixing.
Notwithstanding some federal intervention, gambling is basically governed by state legislation. In particular, 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 boards. It also regulates the licensing and operations of bookmakers and the TAB, and provides for offences for certain other types of racing-related betting.
Much more difficult to control is interstate and international gaming via telecommunications (including the internet). The Commonwealth Government’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth) regulates internet-based gambling services.
In addition to traditional criminal sanctions for fraud (s 408C Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) (Criminal Code)), all Australian jurisdictions have specific offences related to match-fixing, and the Commonwealth government has also been proactive by creating the National Integrity of Sport Unit.
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 which 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 fixed contingency may not change 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.