Betting and the integrity of sport


Most of the sports popular in the world today emerged and developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Very quickly they became closely linked with wagering on the outcome of contests. Indeed, the rules of two leading sports, cricket and golf, were codified for the first time, in each case in 1774, by betting interests concerned that disputes on pay-outs should not arise because of ambiguity about how events should be conducted {(Munting} 1996). From then until now, betting has been a pervasive influence on sport. For example, betting companies have become a dominant source of sponsorship in English Premier League football and the famous shirts of Real Madrid are now adorned with the logo of a bookmaker. All this is unsurprising. Sport provides the product to which gambling relates and sport itself becomes more popular when those following it can add to the excitement from a game by taking a financial stake in its outcome. Sports and bookmakers might then be thought to be natural commercial partners: contemporary sponsorship arrangements clearly have the potential to be advantageous to both sectors. However, in practice, in the past and now, sports governing bodies have, more often than not, displayed antagonism towards betting. The reason is that, from the earliest years of organised sport, they have feared manipulation of contests by those who can then profit from betting on outcomes which are supposed to be uncertain.

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