Can you bet on fixed matches? Is there a way to identify a match that is likely to be fixed? In this article we discuss betting on fixed matches and how not to be seduced by the Fixed Match Tipping Scam.
Let’s be clear from the beginning. If you’ve received an email, text message or social media post from anybody looking to sell you information for an upcoming sporting event that they claim is fixed, ignore it. Do not reply and most certainly do not send them any money. Instead, ask yourself a simple question. Why would anybody want to sell you information regarding a fixed sporting event? If they know the result is fixed, why would they send out many thousands of emails or text messages informing anyone and everyone? Why would they alert the world on social media?
Well you might say they are selling the information to make money. But if they know the result is fixed, why wouldn’t they just dump a mountain of cash on the fixed result with their bookmaker? Why would they make themselves vulnerable to criminal prosecution and any authority looking to investigate the fixing of sporting events?
The Fixed Game Scam
To put it bluntly, this offering of information on fixed matches in exchange for money is a scam. Those perpetrating the scam do not know of or possess any such inside information. For example, you may have seen Facebook accounts such as displayed below, promoting insider tips for fixed matches.
But how does the fixed game scam work? Well, it’s pretty simple really.
Let’s say the scammers receive 100 responses, each paying for information on an upcoming football match that the scammers claim to know is fixed. The scammers will tell a third of their respondents that the home team is going to win. They tell another third that the away team is going to win. They tell the last third that the game will end in a draw.
The match is played. Two thirds of the respondents lose and obviously feel cheated by the scammers. But one third will win their bets and now believe that the scammers may really have some inside knowledge on fixed football matches.
A week later the scammers send out another email to the respondents who won on the previous fixed game tip. This time the scammers double the price for the fixed game information. Feeling confident and flush with cash, those who won on the previous tip are happy to pay double in exchange for information on what they feel is a sure winning bet. Again the scammers divide the respondents. A third for the home team, a third for the away team and a third for the draw.
The match is played and again, two thirds feel cheated as they lose their bets. But now there is a group of respondents that have won two consecutive bets, who have now totally bought into the scam and believe they are truly getting inside information on fixed football games.
Another week passes by and the scammers send out another email to those respondents who have now won two consecutive tips. This time they ask ten times the price for the inside information. And feeling super confident in the information they are receiving, the respondents are more than happy to pay whatever the price for what they believe is a guaranteed winner. This process continues week after week, with the scammers raking in the money for fraudulent information, while every respondent eventually loses and in some cases, the losses can be quite considerable.
So again, do not be fooled by the fixed game scam. Do not reply to any emails, text messages or social media posts. And do not send any money.
How To Identify A Fixed Match
Having said all of that, there is no doubt that match fixing does occur. It has been exposed and reported on a number of occasions, in sports such as cricket, tennis, basketball and of course, football. If from time to time sporting events are fixed, how can we identify them?
#1 – Irregular Pre-Match Odds
Betting odds are typically a reflection of the money that is being bet on a certain outcome. For example, if Chelsea are listed at odds of 2.30 to defeat Arsenal and there is a steady stream of money being bet on Chelsea in the days leading up to the match, the bookmaker will cut Chelsea’s odds accordingly.
In this way, a betting market can be regarded as similar to a financial market, with punters “buying” or “selling” particular match outcomes. As more punters “buy” Chelsea’s odds to win the match, the market adjusts accordingly. As the demand for Chelsea’s win odds go up, their odds go down.
So how can all this help us spot a fixed game? Well if betting odds are a reflection of demand and supply, then match odds should be an accurate reflection of the true likelihood of an outcome occurring. But when the demand for odds on a certain outcome become so great that it distorts the market, then there is a good chance, a result has been fixed. This is particularly the case in more obscure leagues where betting markets are already quite fluid and matches more susceptible to match fixing due to lower player and referee wages.
Likewise, if in the hours leading up to a particular football, the odds for a draw drop, it is because there has been a large amount of money bet on the draw. A slight drop in odds for a drawn result may be innocent enough. Perhaps the weather forecast has changed. Perhaps the results of other matches has diminished the need for one of the competing teams to get a victory. But if on the other hand the drop in odds for the draw is significant, then it is due to a heavy and irregular plunge of money on the draw.
This can often be seen towards the end of the Serie A season, where the odds for drawn results are quite irregular, often being listed at shorter than even money. This is because there is a “tradition” of sorts in Serie A football, with clubs assisting one another with mutually beneficial results in end of season matches. In fact since the 2000/2001 Serie A season, there have been 76 end of season matches where the odds for the draw were the favoured result (I.e less than both the odds for either team to win the match) with 30 of those matches listing the draw at kickoff at less than even money. Of those 30 matches, 22 ended in a draw. As a comparison, across the same time-frame, there has not been one English Premier League match played where the draw was listed as the pre-match favoured result.
The chart below shows the weight of money traded on a drawn match for Betfair Serie A 1X2 markets for April 2nd and 3rd of 2011. As we can see, there was an irregular amount of money traded on the Chievo vs Sampdoria match, which saw the odds for the draw crash from 3.00 to a close of around 1.55. The match would end 0-0.
But a word of caution. A sudden drop in the odds for a drawn result does not necessarily mean the match is “fixed” in the pure sense of the term, or that there has been an agreement of sorts between the competing teams to ensure a desirable result for each. It may simply be for want of a better phrase, idle gossip, that snowballs to the point where everyone is betting on what they believe is a contrived outcome. A great way to profit in such cases is to back the draw before casual punters come hunting, wait for the money to come pouring in and for the odds for the draw to drop. Once the odds for the draw do drop, lay the draw at shorter odds on Betfair or another betting exchange, and secure yourself a sure profit.
#2 – Irregular In-Play Odds
In-play betting has been another way in which match fixers have taken advantage. Similar to pre-match betting, irregular in-play odds suggest something is not quite right. With the majority of in-play odds compiling being a fully automated process, there have been a number of instances in recent years, where irregular in-play odds and betting patterns have alerted authorities to the influence of match fixing syndicates.
For example, a Swedish Superettan match between Jönköpings Södra and Syrianska in August of 2014 saw irregular in-play odds for the Over 3.5 goals market. Typically odds for Over 3.5 goals being scored in the match (I.e at least 4 goals) are in the range of 2.50 to 3.00. For this match however, the odds for Over 3.5 goals were as low as even money. Curious enough in itself. But what was most glaring was the fact that just fifteen minutes into the match and the game still at 0-0 without a goal scored, weight of money saw the odds for Over 3.5 goals drop to as low as 1.50. When the home team scored in the 21st minute, the odds for Over 3.5 goals then rose to 1.70.
When the second goal was scored in the 51st minute, money was then bet on the Under 4.5 goals market, suggesting that the fixers knew the game would end with just four goals scored. Indeed it did, with Jönköpings Södra winning the match 4-0.
And in case you’re wondering what a fixed match might look like, enjoy this stirring display of “defence” from Syrianska.