Insider Betting & Use Of Restricted Information To Gamble

insider bettingIt’s one thing for the average everyday sports bettor to participate in their favoured pastime, but what about those people who are closer to the action? Those who work in the industry and get to experience it on a day-to-day basis? Do they also have the opportunity to engage in sports betting? And if so, what exactly are the rules around this? Is it more so an anything goes type of policy or are there strict rules surrounding those connected with the sports betting world?

That’s what we’re here to look at on this page – insider betting. How much benefit can this be to people who are able to engage in it? Has anyone been discovered to have been illegally participating in this? We are going to take a deep look into insider betting and discover all about it.

top secret confidentialInsider betting basically relates to someone having inside information about certain events and then placing a bet on it knowing they are likely to gain from that information. Essentially, you could consider an inside bettor to have an advantage over the everyday bettor because they’re closer to it or they have the necessary tips to place bets that are likely to be more successful. Not only that though, let’s say that you know a specific footballer and he informs you that he’s been sold to another club – something that hasn’t become public knowledge yet. You could then head down to your bookies and place a bet on him being transferred, making you an inside bettor.

Perhaps your next-door neighbour has been to the latest X-Factor auditions and they inform you that they’ve got through to the live shows without this being aired on TV yet. That gives you some inside information that pretty much dictates you can place a bet on them getting through before anyone else knows about it. Would it be fine for you to do this, though? Is it a legal activity – and more so, what sort of prosecution can take place if you’re found out to be doing something like this if it is illegal?

Of course, people involved in the television shows or organising the sports events or anything like that are banned from making money out of insider information. If you’re an employee of William Holl, for example, there’s no possible way that you could register for an account and start placing bets at the sportsbook before you would be found out for taking advantage of how things are working there.

Yet, is there a way to police this particular activity if, for example, you happen to overhear a member of a sports team in your local supermarket stating that they’re being transferred to a different club? After all, that’s not something that you set out to learn or became informed of through your job. Would you be committing a crime if you placed a bet on that player being transferred, knowing that it will win?

The first consideration is whether people actually get caught doing this, some certainly do but we can assume many get away with it.  If someone is caught, however, there are different rules depending on the person and where the information came from, which we will cover next.

UKGC Guide to Misuse of Inside Information

ukgcLooking at the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and its guide to misuse of inside information, you’ll see that there are very specific rules and legislation surrounding this. Each and every incident is judged on a case-by-case basis where the Commission is concerned, while two instances could be considered as misuse of information, one could be infinitely more severe than the other.

The Commission has listed six different instances of misuse of information, with the lowest being labelled as the Art of Betting. This relates to researching and finding out information in general to apply that knowledge to your betting strategy, and this isn’t really misuse of information at all. The most severe is Manipulating an Event, which relates to using inside information to cheat and make profit from betting.

There are only four of the six instances that are actually labelled as insider information, and there are different outcomes for what route the Commission would take if they were discovered. These four of the six instances are:

Type of InstanceWhat It Actually MeansUKGC Decision
Informed Information The bettor is actually aware that the information they have received should be restricted and should not be used for their own gain or passed on to others for theirs. Generally speaking, a report to the Sport Governing Body (SGB) would be enough for this instance and any bets placed would likely be voided.
Restricted Information The bettor receives or gains information which has been obtained due to the involvement of a person passing on those details. For example, an employee of a club giving away details of a player sale prior to it becoming public knowledge. Any bets relating to this would be voided and the informant would be sanctioned through their own governing body.
Criminality or Malfunction If someone is aware of a malfunction in how something operates and makes financial gains by being aware of this and exploiting it. Or if a family or group of people linked to a sportsperson places wagers on that player’s career, knowing their inside status. Serious concern for the UKGC, with the Commission likely referring those involved in such to their employer and/or governing body.
Event Manipulation A player or participant actively manipulating the outcome of an event by fixing it that someone is sent off or that a specific number of goals are let in or anything similar. The most serious of matters, with the case likely being referred to the sport’s governing body and beyond. Dismissal of the player(s) is likely to occur.

Famous Examples of Insider Betting

Certain issues have arisen throughout the past when it comes to insider betting. These famous occurrences are remembered, but let’s take a look at why they were scandalous and what outcome they bore.

Reality Television Phone Poll Results

This particular instance of insider betting can’t really be pinpointed to a single occurrence. Reality television shows have created the necessity of people calling in to vote for their favourite contestants or evict their least-favoured participants, for example. The public are responsible for calling in on the given phone numbers and the number of votes need to be collated by someone or something.

Back in 2005, the police were called in to investigate a betting ring that was earning thousands of pounds by acquiring information about the results ahead of time. Naturally, this was suspected to be due to someone working for British Telecom (BT). The betting ring went ahead with placing wagers on the outcomes of events such as those like Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. Each of these shows had phone lines operated by BT.

While the betting ring managed to place a number of bets on events, they were eventually discovered due to the fact that all of the wagers were placed later on in the day and came from the same computers each time. It all started with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2004. Even though a member of the group did work for BT, they denied any sort of criminality, while another member claimed that it was simply luck that saw him win so frequently. The ring garnered £60,000 in winnings while another £45,000 was frozen during investigations.

Interstingly 'novely' or 'special' markets like betting on TV shows carry some of the lowest payout limits in the industry.  This suggests the bookies don't have as much trust in the integrity of these compared to high level sporting events.

Virgin Media Workers Gain the Advantage Betting on The X-Factor

It seems like reality television has been at quite the centre of multiple issues in the past, with 2011 proving to be yet another bad year. Phone operators working for the Virgin Media company were discovered to have placed £16,000 worth of bets each week, utilising their ability to access the voting pattern information behind the scenes. Those bets were placed on the Betfair sportsbook, and this took place on the site’s exchange betting system.

Exchange betting allows participants to wager against each other, rather than against the bookmaker itself. Around 100 people were affected by the scam, although the Gambling Commission issued a voiding order, allowing them to seek recompense for their illegal losses.

Footballer Bets on His Own Transfer

Football, or sports in general, have often had a testing relationship with gambling. Players have got themselves into masses of debt, and the governing body of football has had to battle heavily against those players who have suffered from addiction. Yet, perhaps nobody could have guessed that a player would have wagered on his own transfer!

In 2017, an English Premier League defender placed a bet on his own transfer and picked up £5,000 in winnings. While the footballer’s identity was never revealed, it was a bookmaking insider who lifted the lid on the happenings.

Naturally, the bet itself was voided by the UK Gambling Commission, and the player’s account was closed. Yet, he was able to proceed with opening up an alternative account fairly swiftly, and went on to bet about £40,000 on roulette, according to the insider noted before. Yet, a lot of this information was brought to the forefront after player Joey Barton admitted that he had placed bets equating to thousands of pounds on football matches. This was claimed to be very typical of football players.

Can Betting Company Staff Place Bets?

betting app on a phone on a deskA common idea behind insider betting is that it would be very easy for someone working at an online sportsbook to place wagers and win. Obviously, working so close to the sports betting scene, this would certainly prove to be an advantage. That being said, someone working for Betfair for example, wouldn’t be able to open up an account at that platform and engage in betting. That is banned outright by the sports betting companies themselves. Yet, there’s nothing to stop that person from opening up an account with Bet365 or Ladbrokes, for example, and placing wagers there.

Does this really mean that those sports betting employees have an advantage, though? Different platforms work in different ways and tend to feature varying odds, albeit as competitive as possible. While it’s quite easy for these employees to see which way the general opinion lies on an event and then place a bet to that effect at a different platform, this is more so minimal insider information. Various sources of information can be found online that provide hints and tips on public opinion relating to winning bets, so it’s not really that different to those circumstances.

Are Tipping Services Considered Insider Betting?

sports tipsThere are many online tipping services available, which are utilised by a number of sports bettors. Can these really be considered as insider betting, though? Or are they just much more of a scam service? These give you hints and tips about which horses are the best ones to back in upcoming races or which football teams are the better ones to back in fixtures. You’re required to sign up to one of these services and then take the advice as it comes. Essentially, you’re trusting in the judgement and advice of someone else when it comes to tipping services like this.

Well, in general, they’re not specifically insider betting, and the likelihood is that some of them can be considered as scams. That’s why it’s quite important to ensure that if you do use one of these services, that you’re able to see their explanation as to how they came about that particular betting choice. Generally speaking, a proper tipster should be able to provide you with the research they’ve done to get to the point of suggesting a specific bet. So, this isn’t insider information as such – it’s taking the advice of someone who has gauged the markets and events and placing a bet based on their opinion, rather than on inside information.

However – and this is a big however – there are those higher end horse racing tipping services, which do utilise insider knowledge. Yet, they also charge quite the large sums of money for their users to be a member of their community. You will need to hand over some money to receive inside information on events for high end bets in most cases. Because the tipsters are pretty much connected and involved with everything happening in the stables, the races and so on. This gives them good and high-quality insider information, but most people aren’t willing to pay for such a tipster service.

Is Courtsiding Insider Betting?

courtsidingCourtsiding is a process by where someone attends a live sporting event and is able to get information and bet on an outcome before a bookmaker does.  It is common in tennis, hence the name.

Taking the example of tennis someone can sit in a stand ready to bet on the outcome of the next point, they may then see the ball go out of play before it is called by the umpire.  The stats bookies use to manage their markets depends on the recorded official calls by the umpire but often it takes an umpire a few seconds between a result and a call.  If someone can bet on this quickly they can make a lot of money.

We talk about courtsiding in detail on a dedicated page but the question here is this insider betting or is this simply clever abuse of the system?  Well, it is not illegal as such but it is highly frowned upon (e.g. if found it will get you ejected from a venue).  It could be considered under the 'criminality and malfunction' classification by the UKGC but then it would be hard to prove that in court.

Courtsiding therefore is a process of utilising information but gains from it are more to do with abusing technical factors (such as the time between a result and an official result).

Sports Vulnerable To Insider Betting

sports betting guidePretty much every sport and event available can be liable to insider information and therefore insider betting.  Still, there are some sports where insider betting is more common than in others:

  • Large Team Sports (e.g. football) - The very nature of team sports means there are a lot of people involved and this naturally means more sources of information or more people that could be concerned into providing details or performing actions that would enable winning bets.
  • Solo Sports (e.g. Tennis) - At the other end of the spectrum solo sports.  Here the fact there is just one player means any information given can have a much bigger impact on a result.  
  • Horse Racing - You can't exactly ask a horse how it is feeling but you can get a lot of information from trainers and jockeys, which we know for a fact is used by professional bettors.  With so many people involved in training and racing a horse it is difficult to imagine insider betting does not happen on a daily basis.  The difficult question in this area is whether that constitutes restricted information or if it is just good research?
  • Low Paid Sports - At the end of the day most inside information is going to cost money and money is going to have more sway with someone earning a matter of a few thousand from a sport (like a low level tennis player) vs a Premier League footballer.  Therefore a lot of bets using insider info tend to be on low level events, the bookies know this and they have lower payout limits for these as a result.
  • Amateur Sports - It is actually quite difficult to bet on amateur sports simply because bookies cannot be confident in these markets.  Professional sports people will have a code of conduct that they must adhere to or risk being banned, this is often not the case for amateur sports, which naturally makes them more liable to interference and insider information.
  • Betting On Individuals - It is hard to get insider information that would have a massive impact on a football match but it is possible to get information relating to a player, for example, whether they may be transferred as we discussed before.  In general betting on things to happen to individuals is more at risk of inside information than other markets.  Often punters will bet on things to happen to people who are not professional sports people, such as a celebrity to get married or the name of their next child, etc., all of which has obvious possibilities for advance information that can be circulated.