Global Report Calls Costa Rica a 'Sports Betting Paradise'

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – A detailed report released on Thursday in Paris, France, reveals that organized crime launders $140 billion annually through sports betting with 80% of transactions from illegal gambling.

    The document indicates that Costa Rica is one of the world’s havens with between 250 and 500 people doing trades, while”no sports betting licenses are granted.

    In fact, this activity is not legal in Costa Rica, despite past efforts that were made for taxing this activity. The bill that was under discussion, but got stuck.

    The extensive document is called Integrity Protecting of Sports Competitions, and was conducted jointly by the Sorbonne University and the International Center for Sports Safety, both located in Paris, France.

    Impact of laundering

    The report is the result of an investigation that lasted two years and, in its main conclusions, indicates that criminal organizations launder money, mainly making bets in football and cricket.

    The documentation points out that manipulation in sports competitions and gambling threatens every country and region, and other sports, such as tennis, basketball, badminton and chariot racing disciplines.

    It even indicates that investigations have been done, that found sporting intrigues, for the only purpose of benefiting from illegal sports betting networks.

    It mentions the case of the 14 Salvadoran players who were banned last year for life after being found guilty of involvement in match-fixing of the major representative soccer team.

    One of those matches under investigation was the friendly, that the team of El Salvador had with Costa Rica, in San Carlos in 2010.

    Other revelations in the report are:

    • Asia and Europe represent 85% of the legal and illegal betting market, but Asia represents over 50%.
    • Legal sports betting currently generates just over $5.3 billion in taxes, compared to $140 billion annual by laundering.
    • There are over 8,000 legal operators offering sports betting, of which 80% are in areas with few controls.
    • It is impossible to estimate the number of illegal operators.

    “The rapid development of the market of sports betting has seen an increased risk of infiltration by criminal organizations and money laundering. In addition, there is a transformation of gambling with more complexity to those such as live betting. The most vulnerable, says the study, are the ones the most difficult to detect suspicious activity,” said Chris Eaton, director of ICSS.

    Eaton wants the governments to take actions that allow greater control and facilitate cooperation between sports movements, public authorities and betting operators.

    In fact, he mentions that there is little cooperation at national and international level and very recent relations between operators and sports federations.

    The Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) coincides with these insolvencies, in this case, in national legislation.

    “This is not enough to confront this business more directly. Mostly its branches and networks are behind borders where international cooperation in security matters is reduced because there is no absolute prohibitive regulation,” indicates the institution in a letter sent to the Press Office.

    It should be recalled that Costa Rica has made headlines for alleged disjointed international networks that operate illegal gambling from the country, as occurred in May 2012 in the United States.

    On that occasion, the authorities of the District of New Jersey reported that 13 people – including members of organized Italian crime- were prosecuted in connection with illegal gambling from Costa Rica.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

    San Jose, Costa Rica

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