ICC needs to understand betting industry better: Rutherford

Updated: Mar 15, 2011, 18:27 PM IST

New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-betting business expert Ken Rutherford has called on the International Cricket Council to understand the working of sports betting industry and work pro-actively to clean up the game from the menace of match fixing.

Rutherford, a former New Zealand captain and currently working in the South African sports betting business, said understanding the working of the betting industry can recognise when match-fixing may occur.

He said the ICC should form information-sharing partnerships with the world`s biggest bookies and betting markets should be closely monitored by experts during games for any suspicious movement of money.

"I would be shocked if a World Cup game was interfered with. The spotlight is at its most extreme and the fixers could find better options for their skullduggery in matches where the focus is less strong," Rutherford, who captained New Zealand in 18 Tests and 38 ODIs from 1992 to 1995, said.

"The ICC should employ traders from the sports betting industry whose job it would be to watch the markets on a daily basis. They could set up some kind of software that would be applied to the markets that would act as an alert should money be moving oddly - that is, against the natural progression of a match."

Rutherford, who has worked as heads of sports betting in various organisations in New Zealand and Singapore, suggested the ICC to form its own "underground" network of "spies" to track illegal bookies, especially in countries like India where betting has no legal sanction.

"At my old job at Singapore Pools, we often heard things in advance from our own network of spies. If something was suspected in football, the match officials would warn the players prior to the game that the match was suspected of being fixed, and that they better not try anything," said Rutherford about his experience as head of Singapore Pools, the gaming operator in that country.

"When odd betting behaviour is suspected, the network is informed. Often markets will be closed as a result of this information. The network has a direct line through to UEFA (European football`s governing body), who are informed prior to a match beginning if any match fixing is suspected," he told a cricket website.

Rutherford said such safeguards would, however, not be able to solve illegal betting on the sub-continent and to tackle the problem he prefers ways to try to somehow infiltrate the bookies` underground network.

"It`s not easy - but it`s crucial. Illegal bookmaking operations in India and in other parts of Asia are rife, so some kind of cricket`s own underground network could be set up to better understand the lie of the land. Some of the bet types are only available to clients of the illegal bookies."

He said illegal betting was too large to be wiped out completely and the way forward should be to legalise it so that the government could earn some revenue and at the same time the safeguards could be put in place.

"Risk management systems can easily alert the operator to the possibility of foul play. By treating sports betting as a social outcast, it is allowing the whole illegal bookmaking network to flourish. In places like Hong Kong and Singapore where governments have approved sports betting, it has had some impact in combating illegal bookmaking."