NSW introduces 10 year jail sentences for match-fixing

Sport & Events eBulletin - 31 October 2012

Summary

Anyone found guilty under anti match fixing and corruption legislation recently introduced by the NSW government could face up to 10 years jail. 

Specific provisions in the legislation define the conduct that will be considered criminal in circumstances where a person obtains or intends to obtain a financial advantage in relation to a betting outcome and their conduct does not meet the standards of integrity that a reasonable person would expect of someone in a position to affect the betting outcome of an event.

 

 

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Background

In June 2011, the Australian Sports Ministers (both Federal and State) endorsed the 'National Policy on Match-Fixing in Sport' (Policy). The aim of the Policy was to protect the integrity of Australian sport and encourage all governments to address the issue of inappropriate and fraudulent sports betting and match-fixing activities.

The Sports Ministers then took the Policy back to their respective governments as the basis for developing relevant legislation in their states. 

In NSW, at the request of the NSW Attorney General, the NSW Law Reform Commission prepared a report known as ‘Report 130 Cheating at Gambling’ (Report). The Report contained a number of recommendations, including a recommendation to introduce broad criminal offences for corrupting the betting outcome of an event with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Acting on the recommendations contained in the Report, the NSW state government amended the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (Crimes Act) to incorporate specific provisions related to cheating at gambling (Anti-Cheating Laws). These new provisions commenced on 13 September 2012. 

 

What will now constitute an offence under the Crimes Act?

Under the Crimes Act in NSW, a person will have committed an offence where they:

 

  • Knowingly or recklessly corrupt a betting outcome of an event with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage or cause a financial advantage in relation to any betting on an event; and
  • Engage in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

Under this definition, there are a number of different threshold tests which need to be met in order for a person's conduct to be considered an offence under the Crimes Act. It is important for sporting organisations to understand how each one is intended to operate.

Corrupting the betting outcome of an event

The Crimes Act limits an offence to conduct which results in the outcome of a betting event being corrupted. This would occur where a person's conduct: 

 

  • affects or, if engaged in, would be likely to affect, the outcome of any type of betting on the event; and 
  • does not meet the standards of integrity that a reasonable person would expect of someone in a position to affect the betting outcome of an event.

The first bullet point above narrows the type of conduct that is considered an offence to that which is related to the outcome of betting on an event. The second point aims to avoid criminalising conduct which, although it might affect a betting outcome, is not considered severe enough to warrant criminal liability. 

According to the NSW parliament, examples of conduct that may not meet the threshold in relation to the second bullet point and therefore will potentially not be considered an offence include tactical decisions and honest errors that would best be dealt with by sporting administrators rather than the criminal law.

The final decision on whether a person's conduct is found to contravene the standards of integrity applicable to those persons participating in the event will depend on the circumstances of each particular case.

Obtaining or causing a financial advantage

Liability under the Anti-Cheating Laws is limited to circumstances where a person "obtains a financial advantage" or "causes a financial disadvantage". It does not cover conduct that might affect the betting outcome of an event if a financial outcome is not involved. 

However, if a person has obtained a financial benefit for someone else, or facilitated or encouraged someone to do something that would result in financial advantage, this will be considered an offence under the Crimes Act. 

Betting

Betting is defined to include: 

 

  • placing a bet; 
  • causing a bet to be placed; 
  • accepting a bet; or 
  • withdrawing a bet. 

The term "betting" extends to include bets on event contingencies, such as first scorer.

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Scope of the Anti-Cheating Laws

The Anti-Cheating Laws are broad in scope and apply to anyone who:

 

  • engages in prohibited conduct in NSW, even if placing a bet on an event where it would be lawful to do so in another State or Territory; and
  • facilitates conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event, including offering to engage in prohibited conduct, encouraging another person to do so or entering an agreement in relation to conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.

 

Inside information vs information used to corrupt a betting outcome

Provisions of the Crimes Act make it an offence to use information where that information would corrupt a betting outcome.

This is different from "inside information", which is defined under the Crimes Act to mean information about an event that is not generally available and would be likely to influence betting on the event.

 

Penalties

The Anti-Cheating Laws are designed to send a clear message that match-fixing and corrupt conduct will not be tolerated. The penalties reflect the seriousness to which such behaviour is held. The maximum penalties provided under the Crimes Act are as follows:

 

  • Imprisonment for 10 years, in relation to the following offences:
    • engaging in conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event
    • facilitating conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event
    • concealing conduct or agreement about conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event;
    • using information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome to place a bet or pass it onto someone likely to bet; and
  • Imprisonment for 2 years, where a person has used or passed on 'inside information' for the purposes of betting.

Summary offences may be tried in the Local Court, for which the maximum financial penalty is $11,000.

 

All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.

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