Bookmakers were tricked into posting odds for a fake sports game earlier this month. Caught off guard they unknowingly accepted wagers on a ‘phantom’ football match.
On February 3rd, at Wave stadium in Pinsk Belarus, an alleged friendly match between two Belarusian premier league clubs, Shakhtyor Salihorsk and Slutsk was supposed to take place. The match was even reported to be won by Slutsk, with a final score of 2:1.
The only problem was that that match never took place! On the official website of the Salihorsk ‘Miners’, a preview of the match was posted. Then later updates indicating that Salihorsk had opened the scoring in the first half, but in the 2nd half they lost by two late Slutsk goals.
That review is no longer on the site and has been deleted. When questioned by news outlet Pressball, the site’s press secretary informed the media house that its website had been hacked and the information illegally posted.
As a result of the fake posting, BookmakersRating.ru reported that many bets were accepted on the game on well respected online gambling sites including Bet365, SBOBET, 188Bet, BetVictor, Dafabet and Unibet. Most likely, the amounts wagered on the match were not high but this breach on secure betting could threaten the legitimacy of online gambling businesses if they don’t keep a closer eye on events and do their research. It appears likely that some people earned a decent pay out of this elaborate scheme.
This is not the first time this kind of game-faking has happened and of bookies and real-time sports data providers being fooled by phantom football matches. In August 2014, some online bookies were forced to void bets on a match between Spanish second division team Ponferradina and Portugal’s Freamunde after it was found out that the game in question was really a pick-up game between friends, who allegedly wore the ‘correct team colors’ to mimic the real teams. Over a year ago in Armenia, something similar happened involving the football clubs Ulysses and Gandzasar, which forced local bookies Vivaro and TotoGaming to suspend wagering on them in time to prevent losses.
This recent incident is going to make bookmakers and data providers more wary and pay closer attention to minor league games. They will have to stop offering odds altogether on matches of any sport that don’t have media coverage on them so they can be verified, such as the English Premier League or other top-ranked sports leagues organizations. This way, online bookmakers can be assured that a match is real and actually takes place. It will be interesting to see what moves the big online betting sites make to protect themselves against this kind of fraud.
These kinds of events affect the loyal fans of second league or minor league teams that don’t have major sports in their own town or city to wager on. If betting houses want to expand their offerings in more regions, they will have to come up with a better plan on how to monitor all the matches they have on offer, for the sake of far play.