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Sportradar more than doubled its use of AI for detecting sports manipulation between 2022 and 2023, according to its latest annual integrity report.

The company identified 1,329 suspicious sports matches in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 8.7%.

Artificial intelligence was said to have assisted in detecting almost three quarters of all suspicious matches in 2023, as it played a key role in 977 or 73% of the total detections.

That figure represented an increase of 123% compared to 2022.

The matches, which showed indicators of match-fixing or other integrity concerns, were identified among more than 850,000 matches and events across 70 different sports tracked by Sportradar’s Integrity Services.

Those figures gave a suspected manipulation rate across all sports of 0.21% in 2023, which was consistent with the figure recorded in 2022.

The analysis also did not mark any single sport with a suspicious match ratio of greater than 1%, and confirmed that 99.5% of all monitored sporting events did not show any signs of suspicious betting.

Breakdown by sport

As the most popular sport for betting worldwide, it is perhaps only natural that football was the sport with the highest number of suspicious matches reported, at 880. That figure represented 103 more suspicious matches reported than in 2022.

Football was followed by basketball, with a further 205 suspicious matches reported (down 15 matches compared to 2022), making this the only other sport with more than 100 suspicious matches flagged during the year.

The third highest number of suspicious matches was found in table tennis, with 70 matches flagged, followed by tennis, esports and volleyball with 61, 46 and 27 suspicious matches, respectively.

Cricket and handball accounted for a further 13 and 12 suspicious matches, respectively, while ice hockey had eight, futsal seven, and snooker just one suspicious match.

In total, there were 449 suspicious matches detected across 10 sports outside football in 2023, compared to 443 across 11 sports in 2022, which Sportradar said demonstrated “a consistent level of match-fixing activity outside of the number one global sport.”

Breakdown by geography

When examining the data by region, Europe emerged as the geographical area where the most suspicious matches were flagged, where 667 matches were marked as suspicious in 2023, compared to 630 in 2022.

In South America, a further 217 matches were flagged, down from 225 in the previous year, while Asia saw a total of 302 suspicious matches recorded, up from 240.

Suspicious matches from other regions in the world totalled 143, up from 128 in 2022.

2024 outlook

“A similar pattern of suspicious match numbers witnessed in 2023 is likely to persist into 2024,” according to Sportradar, as the numbers of suspicious matches have remained broadly consistent over the past few years.

Broad economic factors are likely to play a “significant role” in influencing sports integrity this year, the report added, while “the ongoing lack of robust integrity measures” in several global sports organisations will also contribute to a continuation of the trend.

Preventative measures such as educating those involved with sports can help to prevent match-fixing and other integrity concerns, but more needs to be done in this area globally, the report said.

Football is likely to continue as the main contributor to the number of suspicious matches reported this year, while basketball “is likely to continue as the sport with the second highest number of suspicious matches worldwide, reflecting a consistent pattern over the past few years.”

Finally, the use of account-level betting data, augmented by AI technology, is expected to be an increasingly key tool in the detection of suspicious betting activity going forward.

“Continued investment in the development of technology is key to detecting otherwise hard-to-find occurrences of match-fixing,” said Andreas Krannich, Sportradar’s EVP of integrity, rights protection and regulatory services.

“In combination with access to account-level data, collaboration across the industry and human experts, we have a suite of powerful tools to help both prevent and detect risks to sports integrity. 

“Further advancements in the fight against match-fixing will be possible as the AI models continue to learn and we will keep honing our expertise to protect sport from manipulation.”

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