Fans queue at the gate for the Australian Open tennis tournament, Monday, January 15, 2018.
Fans queue at the gate for the Australian Open tennis tournament, Monday, January 15, 2018.

Crackdown on suspicious sports betting

SUSPICIOUS betting activity and betting-related match fixing will be targeted in a world first agreement to provide police with real-time alerts and information to catch criminals.

The Letter of Agreement was signed between Victoria Police and sports betting monitor the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) in December last year.

The agreement will be in place for 2018 sporting events in Victoria, including the Australian Open.

Police will be able to receive real-time betting alerts from ESSA on sporting events Australia-wide should any matches exhibit suspicious betting activity.

These alerts will be sent to the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, but ESSA will not be able to access any law enforcement data.

This is a world first agreement between ESSA and a law enforcement agency, with the organisation previously only sharing data with sporting federations and gambling regulators.

Previously police had to rely on ESSA alerts being sent to them from sporting federations, of which not all are members of the organisation or may be able to provide them to police immediately.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Brigham said corruption in sport is one of the fast growing crime types globally and this agreement will allow Victoria Police to target and investigate these crimes better than ever before.

"We often refer to Melbourne as Australia's sporting capital, however with that title comes a level of risk in relation to sports betting," he said.

"It is a massive business and in such a lucrative market there is always the potential for corruption,

He said the real time aspects of the alerts will give investigators the ability to act quickly and even attend the sporting event in question to immediately commence the investigation.

"The challenge for police is to stay ahead of the game when it comes to this offending and to continually strive to create an environment where it's difficult for those criminals to exist," he said.

"This agreement with ESSA highlights Victoria Police's commitment to taking steps to create an environment that will make it difficult for organised crime to infiltrate our shores and our sporting codes."

In 2016, ESSA reported a total of 130 alerts of suspicious activity.