Cryptocurrency increases illegal gambling at Asian football competitions

3 min read

Cryptocurrencies make gambling on the world's most popular sport easier, sports authorities suggest.

Asian football has seen a sharp decline in match fixing over the past six years, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in a Reuters article of 14 February. However, illegal gambling that has historically caused match fixing in the region has grown, partly due to the emergence of cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Corruption and match-fixing down

The AFC and its integrity partner, the Swiss-based Sportradar, have been working together since 2013 to tackle corruption in Asian football.

Before that, a handful of large global syndicates served the illegal gambling and match-fixing racket, but thanks to the clean-up efforts of the AFC this has now become the domain of lonely wolves and local gangs.

Oscar Brodkin, director of intelligence and research services at Sportradar, said: "Because key figures are being imprisoned or disrupted and high-profile issues are discussed in the media, match fixing has become much more fragmented in the last five years."

Illegal gambling

During this period, however, the gambling amounts have increased and traditional payment methods are being replaced by cryptocurrencies and even payment in kind. Brodkin said:

"We have observed an increase in the acceptance of cryptocurrency as a payment method for illegal activities and a medium to deploy."

Transparency International estimated that the illegal gambling market in Asia would be worth around $ 400 billion in 2018. Gambling is technically illegal in most of the continent, including the most populated countries: mainland China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As Cointelegraph reported, the relationship between football and crypto is more positive in Europe, because different clubs are launching blockchain-based fan tokens to increase engagement. Recently the Spanish football power FC Barcelona collaborated with fintech platform Chiliz to create a blockchain based token for the sports franchise.

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Don Bradman

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