Increased and more widespread monitoring of women’s sport should be considered to help combat match-fixing, according to a new report.

‘Breaking Barriers: Assessing Women’s Sports, Betting, and Integrity Challenges’ looked at the current state of female sports around the world.

Presented this week at iGB L!VE, the study had the support of leading industry organisations, operators and suppliers. These included the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), All-In Diversity Project (AIDP), Entain, Flutter and Stats Perform.

The report flagged a “dramatic” rise in women’s sport worldwide, accompanied by a similar increase in betting.

Football led the way in terms of betting activity, with an annual market growth rate of approximately 20% since 2020. This was followed by tennis, basketball and cricket, with growth rates of over 10% during the period from 2017 to 2022.

The study also looked at the characteristics of female bettors. The percentage of female bettors in women’s sport grew across the four sports and volleyball, with annual growth rates of up to 10%.

Meanwhile, the total number of women betting on female soccer has more than doubled. In addition, the total volume of bets placed on women’s sports grew more among women than men.

Maintaining integrity

However, increased betting activity on these sports raised concerns about manipulation and match-fixing in women’s sport. As such, the study made a number of recommendations to combat such issues.

These included strengthening monitoring and cooperation between sports governing bodies, betting operators and law enforcement agencies. The report also recommended promoting fair wages and economic transparency to reduce the risk of corruption and match-fixing.

Researchers also suggested developing targets and tailored education and communication programs for athletes, coaches and support staff. These, the report said, would raise awareness about the risks of corruption and help create and reinforce integrity.

In addition, the report recommended increasing the data available and conducting further research and analysis on women’s sports and betting.

Research said this would deepen the understanding of the match-fixing dynamics in women’s sports and will allow to develop approaches to integrity tailored to particular circumstances of female sports.

Increased responsibility

“The dramatic growth of women’s sports is a hugely positive development – for fans, the sports and athletes themselves, and also for the betting market,” IBIA chief exectuive Khalid Ali said. “It is creating very significant and untapped opportunities for sports betting.

“However, with increased growth, comes an increased responsibility for ensuring we get ahead of the game when it comes to sports integrity and the fight against match-fixing in women’s sport. There is no room for complacency.”

AIDP co-founder Christina Thakor-Rankin added: “This study wants to be the beginning of a conversation with the betting industry on how it addresses women’s sports.

“By understanding what this new and rapidly evolving landscape looks like we put ourselves in the best possible position to keep customers, sports betting operators, athletes and sport safe for all.”

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