In order to safeguard the integrity of the popular T20 tournament, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has roped in Swiss firm Sportradar. Piyush Choudhary, director of business development for the Indian subcontinent, talks to Moneycontrol about the system.
Like every year, the onset of the Indian Premier League (IPL) brings with it reports of various betting rackets busted from different part of the country. This year is also no different with police officials nabbing people from across the country.
In order to safeguard the integrity of the popular T20 tournament, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has roped in Swiss firm Sportradar.
According to estimates, the daily betting turnover in the IPL is approximately Rs 682 crore, just below the National Football League in the United States and the English Premier League in the United Kingdom.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Piyush Choudhary, director, business development, Indian sub-continent, Sportradar, said the company’s Fraud Detection System (FDS) will help detect betting irregularities.
"We have taken note of the previous integrity challenges faced by the IPL, but our approach to the IPL will be similar to other cricket events we monitor. The FDS is built to monitor any suspicious or unusual betting patterns from all variations of cricket events, including the T20 format. The formats may be different, but the key betting markets and ways of betting remain the same, and from a sports integrity standpoint, the methods of manipulation remain similar," he said.
"The FDS will generate alerts when there is any deviation from the norm at any global bookmaker on any IPL match, and our specialist cricket analysts will then be able to investigate these alerts for any indication of foul play," Choudhary told Moneycontrol.
There has been a substantial rise in the number of fantasy sports platforms in the last few years. Speaking on the impact of these platforms on the sports ecosystem, Choudhary said the segment has benefitted from advancements in technology.
"Fantasy leagues were already burgeoning in India before COVID-19. It had grown 40 percent in 2019 to reach Rs 6,500 crore in revenues, with casual and core gamers numbering a grand 360 million — exceeding the population of the US. When world economies have come to grief due to the pandemic, the online gaming sector has shown a contrary graph. Online gaming has been the fastest growing segment of the Indian media and entertainment industry for the second year in a row," he said.
A pandemic has economic consequences and sportspersons can be in a vulnerable position. Choudhary admitted that despite the presence of the bio-bubble, players can be tapped by bookies through various mediums and negative economic conditions have certainly played into the hands of match-fixers.
"Bettors are hungry for any 'live sport' they could get during this crisis," he said.
In any part of the sporting world, the lower divisions of the game are more exposed to the dangers posed by fixers.
So, how does Sportradar plan to nix their attempts?
"We cannot talk of specifics because of the confidentiality involved, but in the last 10 years, we have detected match-fixing at all levels of sport – in the top leagues in football, regional and amateur leagues and even down to seventh and eighth tier in football. What we have seen in the last few years is a definite trend and within football, the match-fixing is starting to come down the levels," he explained."There is constant competition between bookmakers to offer more and more on football. That means lower divisions, youth competitions, sometimes regional or amateur competitions. As the betting exposure of these competitions grow, when you combine this with the actual financial situation of the participants – sometimes amateurs, kids not earning much money – this is where the risk of manipulation increases," the executive added.