$1.7 Trillion of Illegal Bets on Sports Yearly, According to UN Report

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The legal sports gambling industry is steadily growing, with the majority of games offered at the best online casino in Australia. Nonetheless, it still pales in contrast to the illegal firm, based on the United Nations report released during the previous week. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime study, the worldwide illegal sports stakes amount to $1.7 trillion annually. These are frequently used by structured crime and lawbreaking groups for laundering money. 

Based on the estimate, the legal industry was worth roughly $40 billion in 2020. The majority of the revenue came from Europe ($15.2 billion) and Asia ($19.6 billion). As more nations legalized sports gaming, the situation in North America ($2.3 billion) began to change. 

A 2020 American Gaming Association research found that about 52 percent of the United States sports gamblers took part in the illegal market. Besides, 82 percent of them were astonished to find out that they were utilizing illegal platforms, according to the UN report.

On the other hand, according to the analysis, sports betting is used to launder up to $140 billion every year. Also, the total amount of money illegally bet on sports is believed to range from $340 billion and $1.7 trillion. 

In line with the Asian Racing Federation, about 80 percent of all sports stakes are placed illegally. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies have made it possible to make hidden payments for unlawful gambling.

Fighting Corruption and Illegal Bets on Sports

The UNODC has established three key areas of action to combat sports corruption and illegal bets on sports. They include;

  • The need to develop legal strategies and institutional frameworks to help combat sports corruption and crime, with an emphasis on big sporting events, illegal gambling, competitive manipulation, and organised crime involvement.
  • The need for more study and analysis to improve our knowledge of and the abilities to fight sports corruption and crime.
  • The need for enhanced cooperation and information sharing, and best practices across all stakeholders, particularly from the sporting and governmental realms.

Illegal Gambling

According to the report, data suggests that illegal gambling is a major issue in Asia. On the other hand, it may also be growing in South America and Africa. In any case, there are several causes for the rise in illegal betting, including online slots.  One significant aspect is the increased internet usage in the last 20 years. This has made it easier for many people to watch and bet on sporting events. However, these online influences also allow gamblers to sign in and stake with an online sportsbook that might be running outside of the regulation of the gamer’s own country. 

According to the report, the internet has enabled online gambling websites to reach a broader audience in countries where gambling is outlawed. The operators frequently take advantage of existing legal or political issues to purposefully host internet gaming forums in these regions where the local authorities are unlikely to notice them. 

Another concern that is becoming more prevalent is the usage of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It provides a dependable and nearly undetectable international cash transfer tool that may be utilized for sports gambling. 

The UN’s conclusions come as the authorized sports gambling sector, particularly in North America, continues to develop. Following the 2018 Supreme Court verdict, there has been a rush of nation-level legalization in the United States. On the other hand, the federal politicians in Canada just approved a single-gaming stake by the provinces.

Website Trafficking 

The massive amounts of cash staked with offshore and unlawful sportsbooks annually were part of the justification after the sweeping authorization of sports gambling in North America. For example, the gambling sector in Canada estimates that about $10 billion is staked annually through illicit bookmaking activities. On the other hand, $4 billion is wagered through offshore websites. 

The UN’s conclusions are part of a larger report on sports corruption developed with the cooperation of nearly 200 specialists from various sources. These sources include governments, private-sector businesses, and sports organizations. Furthermore, the research also presents a number of suggestions for how the administrations might improve their identification and report of illegal sports betting and associated laundering of money.

Among the concerns is making sure that the national legislation entails rules that appropriately penalize unlawful gambling and associated manipulation of sporting competitions. This also includes mandating betting providers who provide sports betting to report any suspicious wagering to the regulators.

UN Report Suggestion to Combat Illegal Betting 

The danger that illegal gambling poses to sports is exacerbated by the rising quantity of laundering money involved with this illicit activity. Various estimates of the size and scope of unlawful betting exist, with some believing that about $140 billion is laundered annually via sports gaming. 

The United Nations report delves into the legal, black, and grey betting industries, highlighting the challenges of police in an online-connected society. A single deduction is unlikely to be received by state managers and lawmakers who despise engagement in the gaming sector while lamenting the Wire Act’s enduring effects.

Unlicensed managers claiming to be registered by a country can take advantage of the licensing system for the gaming firms that run internationally on the internet. This incident exemplifies why the effective rule of online-based betting necessitates a multi-state approach. With countless internet gambling operators accepting stakes from numerous jurisdictions, determining which are legal and those that aren’t is becoming increasingly challenging. This comes with the exception of the narrow situation of whether the website or operator is registered in the jurisdiction where the sale occurs. 


Sports gaming is gradually becoming legal in many places around the United States. Nonetheless, illicit sports gambling continues to be a lucrative industry across the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the sum of money staked on illegal wagers each year might be considerably more than $1 trillion. Furthermore, the UN estimated that a range of $340 billion to $1.7 trillion is staked on illicit betting each year in its initial Global Report on sports corruption.

The report indicates that the risk of sports by unlawful betting is magnified by the increasing quantity of money laundering involved with this illicit activity. The estimates of the magnitude and scope of illegal gambling vary. On the other hand, some believe that sports betting launders about $140 billion each year. The investigation also looks into unlawful betting, sports corruption, and organized crime involvement.

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