Covid-19: illegal sports betting offers causing concern for Swiss authorities

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Every sector is being impacted by the unprecedented health crisis caused by the spread of Covid-19, including the field of sports betting faced with the temporary ban on professional sports competitions. But Swiss authorities are also concerned about another phenomenon: the proliferation of illegal sports betting. Will this problem become a larger issue? Where are the legal outlets for safe betting? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

Swiss sports betting experiences massive turnover loss

Since the implementation of measures to fight the spread of Covid-19, sports betting companies have incurred huge losses due to turnover. According to Statista, a significant reduction in bets of about 40% has been observed. Although this sector represents $50 billion worldwide, government aid, of course, does not go toward sports betting.

A painful health crisis for many countries

The current crisis is worldwide with many countries, including Switzerland, adversely affected. In the realm of sports betting, England is really feeling the hit since sports betting is so popular there. England has more than 8,300 shops dedicated to betting (mostly owned by the company, William Hill). Undoubtedly, we will see several permanent store closings, which could affect the many employees in the field of sports betting, especially with the lack of job protection by the British government as of yet.

Illegal betting continues to worry Swiss authorities

In Switzerland, there are 2,500 points of sale, or locations, for betting. During this current pandemics, only 1,200 of those shops are still available (confirmed by Jean-Luc Moner-Banet, CEO of Loterie Romande). The temporary inability to access these shops leads some gamblers to seek out solutions online, where many sites and platforms don’t have approval with the Swiss authorities.

Some of these illegal platforms in Switzerland offer players the chance to bet on professional sports matches and competitions that are still ongoing in other countries. For example, the Belarusian Premier League has piqued the interest of many betting fans. Notably, these sports games sometimes have falsified results. Pim Vershuuren, member of the Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Lausanne, recently expressed some legitimate concerns about this:

 “Currently, bettors who are football fans can only bet on 4 championships: Belarus, Tajikistan, Nicaragua or Burundi. Unsurprisingly, these competitions are held by federations that don’t pay most of their players well. Additionally, these games are only attended by a few hundred spectators. If there are bets valued at several million, it will become increasingly likely that results are rigged.”

Asia evades the crisis via e-sport

Contrary to popular belief, some countries have managed to evade the consequences of Covid-19 that are affecting the sports betting market. For example, China and Korea legally allow bets on e-sport. Video game matches are appropriate alternatives for participants, who are confined at home, to access official games.

For several years, e-sport has grown in popularity and continues to impress sports betting experts. Winning these official competitions can be a massive financial gain for the victor. And with the influx of new sponsors, which strengthens this new market even more, a new profession is being created: professional video game player.

Reminder: e-sports betting is prohibited in Switzerland, but with such shocking growth, Swiss authorities may review their decision.

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