Collusion in Betting

What is collusion in betting/online gaming?

Collusion in betting refers to a form of cheating that involves two or more players secretly working together. It is considered an unethical practice that involves two or more players working together to gain an edge over the other participants. The most common way for players to do this will be at the poker table. Collusion in gambling is a significant problem that impacts the online gambling industry. It can also involve serious offenses such as money laundering

Not only does it undermine the integrity of the gambling process, but it also leads to unfair outcomes. Collusion comes in many forms, including chip dumping, using a proxy, chip transferring, soft playing, edging, squeezing, advising, or agreeing to take certain actions with other participants, and stack balancing.

Collusion in betting significantly impacts the iGaming industry. Not only does it undermine the integrity of the game being played, but it causes an unfair advantage for those involved. Such activity can also impact the industry’s reputation, losing trust among investors and bettors. Additionally, it can lead to significant financial repercussions besides legal and regulatory issues. 

What are the different types of collusion? 

Below are the most common types of collusion you are likely to see in betting: 

  • Player collusion: Entails two or more players forming a cheating partnership at a table for their advantage 
  • Syndicate collusion: A group working together to determine value in the odds, take advantage of line movements, and earn a living via sports betting 
  • Insider collusion: Relates to someone gaining insider information about particular events and placing bets on them 

The impact of collusion 

Collusion in betting can lead to various consequences for the operator and the entire iGaming industry.  

  • Distorting fair competition: While it may benefit the bad actors participating in the activity, it harms the other players involved 
  • Financial implications for bookmakers: It can financially affect bookmakers since collusion can involve more nefarious activities–money launderers can join betting tables in collusion with accomplices 
  • Damaging the integrity of sports: The widespread use of such activities can damage the integrity of the games affected, not to mention the trust of its participants 

How collusion in betting works 

In the case of poker games, two players sign into the same site simultaneously, head to the same room, and begin playing at the same table. While they play, they use a medium of contact, i.e., a phone call or Skype, to share information about their cards and the best way to go about the game to benefit them. 

By being aware of the cards they have, they can together determine the chances of what cards remain in the deck by learning more about the ones not in the deck.  

Secondly, they will also collaborate to increase the pot’s size to make the prize significant when they believe the odds are in their favor. Once the game ends, the colluding players divide their profits from the two accounts.  

In the case of collusion in sports betting, as noted earlier, bad actors work together to quickly understand and identify value in the odds and take advantage of line movements. 

Match-fixing is also a type of collusion that goes hand in hand with sports betting, as the participants who decide to fix the match bet money on a certain outcome to happen. It also counts as collusion because, unlike most other forms of fraud, the coach/referee/team management cannot fix a match without a player’s participation.  

Similarly, a player cannot fix a match alone; however, a lone player can fix the outcome for spot betting.  

Notable collusion cases in the betting industry 

Below are the most high-profile collusion betting scandals in betting history: 

The Calciopoli scandal 

Calciopoli is commonly referred to as one of the biggest match-fixing scandals in football history. It implicated several high-profile teams, including Juventus, Fiorentina, AC Milan, and Lazio. 

The Black Sox scandal 

The Black Sox scandal refers to the scheme to fix the 1919 World Series, played between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. 

The Hansie Cronje case 

In April 2000, Hansie Cronje, South African cricketer and captain of the South Africa National Cricket Team, was revealed to have had conversations with an Indian bookmaker regarding fixing matches. This resulted in a game that looked destined to be a draw turned into an unlikely victory for England. Cronje didn’t want to lose the match necessary he just needed to force a result to satisfy the people he was working for. 

Online Gambling specific cases of collusion 

The examples above are just some of the most famous cases of sports betting collusion. Betting collusion online, however, takes place daily. It might not grab the headlines like the Hansie Cronje case did, for example, but the consequences can be devastating for the gambling community. Below is one of the most famous incidents to have occurred in recent years. 

Mike Postle 

Poker professional Mike Postle during the live stream sessions at Stones Gambling Hall, acquired a reputation for being a poker God. This was because when it came down to the river card, he could read the situation as we had never seen before. He knew when to fold and when to make the hero call. During the commentary, someone made an allegation that appeared to be said in jest that he must have inside information, and this, for some viewers, led them to do a little digging.  

Hundreds of hands were used in evidence, and the quality of his decision-making was highly suspicious. He was never found guilty, though, as it couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was cheating. Despite this, he is regarded unfavorably in the poker community since many who know the game inside out believe his decision-making was not the consequence of great play or good luck. 

Legal and ethical considerations of collusion 

Though the activity in gambling is not illegal per se, the objectives achieved due to collusion are often forbidden by law, e.g., money laundering, which can make it illegal.  

The UK Gambling Commission’s proposed measures to curb collusion in betting include encouraging operators to monitor the effectiveness of their procedures and policies. According to the regulatory body, operators must prevent players from occupying multiple seats at a table, investigate customer complaints regarding cheating, keep records of investigations, and employ detection measures, apart from other actions. 

Legal and regulatory measures 

In terms of small-time gambling, anyone caught colluding is usually removed from the betting site, and their account is banned. However, if any group is found partaking in more disreputable activities while colluding, they could potentially face much more significant legal repercussions, e.g., jail time. 

Major betting operators also collaborate to share betting data with sports operations to minimize the risks of illegal betting

How to detect collusion as a betting operator? 

The following are the telltale signs of collusion: 

  • Participants look to avoid action against each other 
  • Players frequently join and leave the table together 
  • Suspicious chat messages 
  • Peculiar betting patterns that appear not to be in the player’s favor 

Operators can use sophisticated software to analyze gameplay history, player hands, and suspicious behavior. Such measures can include KYC checks during onboarding and deposit and withdrawal checks to track activities (according to AML guidelines) around transactions and other potentially suspicious player actions. 

At IDnow, we receive questions regarding gambling in betting consistently. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

What is the difference between collusion and match-fixing? 

Collusion refers to two or more players working together to gain an unfair advantage over the other participants at the table. Match-fixing is the practice of determining the result of a match before it happens. 

How can bookmakers detect collusion patterns? 

Bookmakers can detect collusion via KYC and deposit and withdrawal checks, among other procedures. 

What are the legal consequences for individuals involved in collusion?  

The legal consequences of collusion can include the closing down of accounts or more severe repercussions, such as jail time and hefty fines if activities like money laundering are involved. 

Are there any preventive measures against collusion in place? 

Preventative measures against collusion include KYC checks and deposit and withdrawal checks. 


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