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Illegal betting drives $3 trillion market

The global sports betting market is worth up to $3 trillion, the vast majority of which is generated from illegal gambling, it was announced at a United Nations conference on crime in Doha.

Around 65 percent of that global figure was spent on football betting, while tennis and cricket account for a further 12 percent each of total, said Patrick Jay, a British-based independent betting expert, adding that Asia is at the center of sports gambling.

Speaking at a session on match-fixing in sport at the week-long UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Jay said a conservative estimate of the size of the betting market was worth around one trillion.

"The trillion is all global sports betting, of which the illegal amount would be 90 per cent of it," he told AFP.

"I'll let you into a secret," he continued. "I say the trillion figure because I can just about get away with it without being laughed off stage.”

"The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of people think it is less than that, the only three or four people in the world that I actually respect on this thinks it is two or three times that. And it is growing."

Jay, a former director of trading at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said illegal gambling in Asia was driven by matches which are shown live on television there and played at the right time for a betting audience, with China "becoming the epicentre of the problem.” 

UNODC and the Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security announced a new partnership to "strengthen investigations and prosecutions into match-fixing", which includes proposed measures such as increased data-sharing and seizure of assets.

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