With just a quick look at some of the most popular sports, there are only a few that haven’t fallen victim to some sort of betting scandal. Unfortunately, there has been corruption within sports gambling for as long as sports gambling has been a thing.
All too often, someone is out there looking to get a leg up in one way or another.
In this article, we’ll take a dive into sports betting scams and scandals. We’ll start by reviewing some of the largest sports betting scandals in history. After that, we’ll discuss some of the most common forms of sports betting scams that could impact you personally.
We’ll then help you discover what red flags to be on the lookout for and give you tips on how to protect yourself from these scams.
Largest Sports Betting Scandals in History
Up first, we’ve collected the scoop on some of the largest sports scandals in history.
Below, you’ll see a breakdown of scandals from the last century across a multitude of sports. Unfortunately, these types of sports scandals continue to occur nearly every decade. When it comes to sports betting scandals, it seems that some things never change.
Pete Rose and the Cincinnati Reds
Perhaps the most famous sports betting scandal of all time, the Pete Rose scandal sent ripples around the sports betting world. Loved as one of the best baseball players and coaches of all time, it appeared that Pete Rose was untouchable.
However, everything came crashing down once his sports betting scandal was exposed.
Through an MLB investigation, it was found that Pete Rose has gambled on baseball games during the 1985 through 1987 seasons.
The biggest problem was that Pete Rose was betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he played for and managed them.
According to the MLB report, Pete Rose was betting a minimum of $10,000 per day.
Due to how much evidence the MLB had on Pete Rose and his betting, he was banned permanently from MLB effective in August of 1989. The lifetime ban from MLB even cost him what would have been a guaranteed spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Despite his desperate appeals since the initial ban, MLB has held their ground and kept Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame.
For over 15 years, Pete Rose denied that he ever bet on the game of baseball. However, that all changed in 2004 when he finally admitted that he bet on the Cincinnati Reds every night. His admission was another stab to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, even his late admission of guilt was still not enough for MLB to change their mind.
The Black Sox
The Black Sox sports betting scandal is one of the oldest sports betting scandals on record. During the 1919 Baseball World Series, eight Chicago White Sox players had accepted funds to throw the series. Included in the list of eight players involved was famed player Shoeless Joe Jackson.
In total, the eight players received a total of $100,000 to lose the World Series. The players had colluded to throw the games with professional gamblers that might have been tied to the mob.
Because of this scandal, many renamed the team the Chicago Black Sox because of the negative mark that this left on the team’s history. After the plot was discovered and investigated by MLB, all eight of the players involved, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, received a lifetime ban from MLB.
Nelson Piquet’s Crash
At the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix in September 2008, another sports betting scandal took place. During the race, one of the drivers, Nelson Piquet, was ordered by his team to crash his car.
The Renault team wanted Nelson Piquet to crash his car so that another teammate of his could win the race. Piquet followed the orders from his team and crashed his car during the final moments of the race. Once Piquet crashed his car, his teammate, Fernando Alonso, went on to take the victory in the Formula 1 race.
After an investigation by the governing body of Formula 1, FIA, the Renault F1 team was charged with conspiracy. The Renault F1 team was suspended from F1 races for a period of two years due to the charges from this incident.
As well, the team’s managing director and executive director of engineering were both banned from F1 races for a period of five years due to this scandal.
The 1951 Point Shaving Scandal
One of the biggest scandals in college basketball history is the 1951 Point Shaving Scandal. As part of this scandal, 35 college basketball players were accused of fixing games. In total, at least 86 games were identified as having been fixed over a five year period from 1947 until 1951.
The players involved had been working with a New York-based mob to fix the games.
Overall, 24 of the players ended up being arrested and charged.
Along with the 24 players, 14 mobsters were also indicted and convicted as part of the scandal.
The size of the operation was pretty massive overall. In total, players from five different universities were charged. These schools ranged from New York to Kentucky.
In response to this massive scandal, the NCAA did not allow any tournament games to be played in the New York region again until 1982. The goal of the NCAA was to reduce the likelihood of this type of scandal repeating itself ever again.
Boston College Football Scandal
Dating from 1996, this scandal involves the Boston College football team. Prior to the game happening, the head coach of Boston College, Dan Henning, heard rumors that many of his players had bet that Boston College would lose to their opponent Syracuse. Unfortunately, Dan Henning didn’t take any action before the game started.
The Boston College team went on to lose the game to Syracuse 45-17. Dan Henning contacted the proper officials shortly after the game and notified them of the rumors that he had heard. After an in-depth investigation, 13 Boston College players were suspended.
Due to the suspension of some of his top players, Dan Henning went on to resign from the team’s coach role at the end of a losing season.
2007 NBA Betting Scandal
One of the more recent scandals on our list is the 2007 NBA Betting Scandal. It is one scandal that is still fresh in many people’s minds today. In 2007, the New York Post began to report on the possibility of an NBA referee betting on NBA games using insider knowledge. Eventually, the FBI got involved and began an investigation.
Once the investigation was concluded, charges were filed against the NBA referee Tim Donaghy. It turns out that he had been betting sums well over $10,000 on games that he was officiating. As well, Tim Donaghy has made calls in favor of the team that he had wagered to win the game.
As a referee of the NBA, Tim Donaghy had access to insider information that very few other people had access to. After his arrest, Tim Donaghy also admitted to the authorities that he had sold some of his insider information to bookies using coded language.
It was clear that Tim Donaghy had taken advantage of the insider information that he had access to and used it for illegal actions. For his role in the scandal, he was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison. As well, he received three years of probation after the fact.
2009 European Soccer Scandal
If you’re a fan of betting on soccer or just a soccer fan in general, then the odds are that you’re familiar with our next scandal. In 2009, after a long investigation, it was discovered that over 200 European soccer matches had been fixed.
The overall scope of this operation was absolutely massive. Included in the list of 200 matches were major qualifying matches for EUFA Europa League as well as UEFA Champions League matches.
The scandal was tied to an organized crime ring in Europe.
Working with the cooperation of several smaller soccer clubs, the organized crime ring was able to begin fixing the soccer matches.
Thanks to some wiretaps, the authorities were able to begin making arrests in the case. With each arrest, more information and names were collected which helped authorities round up all responsible parties.
Sumo Wrestling Scandal
This scandal represents the most recent one to make our list of biggest sports betting scandals in history. Due to the sport and its location, you may not have ever heard of this particular scandal. Taking place in 2011, this sports betting scandal rocked the country of Japan.
During an investigation, it was found that 13 senior sumo wrestlers in Japan had been betting on the outcomes of matches and fixing the matches themselves. Due to the strict code of conduct and integrity represented by the sport of sumo wrestling, this scandal rocked the sport and the country.
In fact, the sport’s Grand Tournament was canceled for the first time in 65 years because of the distrust within the sport.
Paul Hornung and Alex Karras
In the 1960s, two top NFL players were suspended for the 1962 season due to their part in betting on their own games. Involved in the scandal were Paul Hornung and Alex Karras. Hornung was the MVP of the NFL in 1961 playing for the Green Bay Packers, and Karras played for the Detroit Lions and was an All-Pro Tackle for the three previous seasons.
Even though both of these players were top players, they got involved with gambling on their games. In the 1960s, professional football players didn’t earn the type of money that players these days do.
It was common in the 1960s for some players to work other jobs in order to help them make ends meet. It is believed that this is the reason that Hornung and Karras got involved in betting on their games. The goal was to help them make some extra cash.
1978-1979 Boston College Basketball
During the 1978 NCAA basketball season, Boston College player Rick Kuhn got mixed up in the wrong crowd. While playing for Boston College, Kuhn was recruited by two lower level gamblers to begin fixing games. Over time, a mobster joined the point shaving scandal and helped it to expand.
Initially, Kuhn’s job was to help make sure that Boston College did not cover the spread on games with large spreads. In exchange for his help, Kuhn would receive roughly $2,500 for each game wager that won.
Eventually, Kuhn went on to recruit two of his fellow teammates to join the point shaving scandal. In total, the teammates fixed nine games.
The scandal was not discovered until the mob connection was arrested on drug charges in 1980. In an effort to help save his own skin, the mobster coughed up information about the fixed games.
For his part, Kuhn received a 10-year prison sentence, yet he only ended up serving 28 months.
Common Sports Betting Scams
In the previous section, we covered in detail some of the largest sports betting scandals in history. While these scams were all perpetrated by the athletes, mobsters or others, there are scams out there every day that you, as part of the general public, need to be aware of and on the lookout for. Ultimately, it is on you to make sure that you don’t get scammed.
In this section, we’ll cover some of the most common sports betting scams that could impact you personally. We’ll cover each of the top three sports betting scams in detail so that you’ll learn what to be on the lookout for.
Unfortunately, there are tons of fraudsters out there looking to take advantage of people. By arming yourself with knowledge about these potential scams, you’ll be less likely to fall for one.
Prediction Software Scams
Of all the sports betting scams out there currently, this one tends to be the most common one that we hear about.
When it comes to sports betting, we’re all looking to get a leg up, right?
While your gut feeling is great, it only gets you so far. For the majority of us, we’re also not the best when it comes to analyzing historical trends or odds from the bookmakers.
Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of folks by selling false sports betting prediction software. Often, these false software systems will be marketed as a way for you to correctly pick sports betting wagers.
Most often, these types of false software programs are aimed at people that bet on horse racing and other professional sports. As part of the scam, the person selling this software will promise you that you’ll more than make back the money that you’ll invest in the software because of how good it is at predicting wagers.
One thing that all of these software scam systems tend to have in common is that they claim they have some form of secret sauce in their system. Typically, they’ll tell you that they are using a proprietary mix of analysis on bookmaker odds paired with historical patterns.
You’ll hear all about every last bit of data that goes into their system so that their special sauce calculation can help you make the winning pick.
As with the majority of things in life, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is the case. Unfortunately, some people out there wish to take advantage of sports bettors using these scam software programs.
The vast majority of these software programs are using data that you too have access to. Often, you could find this same type of data at your local sportsbook or online.
Our suggestion would be for you to avoid
any type of sports betting prediction software.
As a whole, they tend to be a waste of money. As we mentioned before, you have access to all of the same stuff that these software developers do.
Keep in mind that if someone had developed a secret sauce, they would not be selling it. Instead, they’d keep the secret sauce to themselves and make a nice career out of gambling as professional sports gamblers do.
Betting Syndicate Scams
Betting syndicates can be a great thing if they are done with a trusted group of individuals. That being said, there are also people out there that run betting syndicate scams. Before you join any betting syndicate, make sure you know who you’re working with and be ready to walk away if things don’t feel right.
If you’re not sure what a betting syndicate is, let us help get you up to speed. In a betting syndicate, a group of people will pool their betting funds to place sports bet wagers together. Often, this group of people is a set of friends. However, in some cases, the group will be made up of millions of dollars from professional gamblers.
If you’re ever approached by a friend to join a betting syndicate, we still suggest that you consider it cautiously. Make sure that you fully understand how they will use their funds and also inquire about their track record.
We’d also suggest that you get feedback from other members of the syndicate as well.
The main red flag when it comes to betting syndicates is if you are approached by someone that you don’t know asking to join one.
We would be highly skeptical of joining any betting syndicate that is not tied to anyone that you closely trust. By avoiding this, you can save yourself lots of money and headache down the road.
Unfortunately, betting syndicate scams can take people to the cleaners very quickly. In many instances, these scams require as much as $15,000 up front just to join. After that, the scammers will often come back to members seeking more capital to help maintain the account balance.
Unfortunately, betting syndicate scams are often run similar to Ponzi schemes that end up costing investors most, if not all, of their investment.
Our suggestion would be for you to avoid betting syndicates altogether. You might consider joining one if you have a very close friend that you trust 100% that is already a member. Outside of that, we’d suggest that you avoid betting syndicates like the plague.
For the most part, these are for very wealthy and advanced sports bettors. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are neither of those two.
Sports Investment Scams
Another common form of a sports betting scam is a sports investment scam. Under this type of scam, fraudsters will advertise the ability for people to invest in a fund that makes money off of sports betting.
The typical pitch of these investments is that their fund offers investors another way to diversify their investment portfolio. Unfortunately, these funds are fraudulent, and instead of making money, people that fall for this scam will lose their investment.
Typically, fraudsters running this type of investment scam
will target folks that have the cash to invest.
Often, business owners, retired folks, or business professionals will be targeted. The fraudsters will often contact folks via email, phone, or regular mail service.
When it comes to messaging, these sports investment fraudsters will use all kinds of fancy terms in their marketing materials and pitch. It’s not uncommon to see wording that includes terms such as “sports tipping” or “sports arbitrage.” The fraudsters use this fancy terminology as a way to attract highly sophisticated investors that have a high net worth.
When it comes to sports investments, we’d urge you to use caution. Similar to the betting syndicates, we’d only suggest you considering a sports investment if you have a close friend that you trust 100% that can vouch for it.
No matter how fancy their financial terms are, nor how glossy their brochures are, it’s best to shy away from sports investments unless you know they are the real deal.
When it comes to common sports betting scams, there often tends to be some form of red flags. Unfortunately, many people miss these red flags and end up making a poor investment. Check out our top five red flags below and make sure to familiarize yourself with them.
Should you ever come across any of these red flags, we’d suggest that you put up your guard and proceed cautiously. While these red flags don’t necessarily mean that you’re dealing with a scam, it does mean that you could be.
One of the first red flags for these types of scams is promises of huge returns. While it is nice to dream that you’ll all make massive growth within your portfolio of investments of each year, that’s not reality. In reality, there are good years, and there are bad years.
If you’re approached about an investment opportunity or software that promises you massive returns, this should be a big flag. Some of the biggest financial frauds in the past all have this trait in common. While it isn’t 100% of the time that high returns mean that you’re about to get scammed, there is a very good chance of it.
We would suggest that you take a step back if something comes across your desk with very high promised returns. Instead of walking away, ask for more evidence and supporting documentation that their history and claims are true.
Typically, if you start to ask too many questions, you’ll find scammers and fraudsters are all of the sudden not so responsive. Just remember that at the end of the day, it is highly unlikely that someone can promise you high returns on a regular basis.
Another monster red flag for scams is when you receive promises about risk-free investments. If you’ve ever studied finance, you’ll know that there is no true risk-free investment. All investments have some form of risk which is why you receive upside in the form of interest or some other income opportunity.
Fraudsters will use the term risk-free investment to help put people at ease. This term really speaks to retired folks who are in their later years. Typically, retired people have a very low risk tolerance.
Therefore, when they hear about a potential risk-free investment, they can’t help but want to learn more. However, it is not just the elderly that are susceptible to this term. At the end of the day, everyone likes the idea of a risk-free investment.
If you’re ever presented with a risk-free investment opportunity, your guard should go up immediately.
If that risk-free promise is also paired with a promise of high returns, then you should immediately know that you’re most likely dealing with a scam. If an investment were truly risk-free, there would be no need to pay you a high rate of return.
To help illustrate this idea a bit, let us provide you with a couple of samples. One of the safest investments in the world is a certificate of deposit. Backed by the US government, these investments are considered very low risk.
Because the certificates of deposit have a very low risk, they pay a very low interest rate. The investor does not need to be compensated at a high rate since there is a low likelihood of the investor losing all or a part of his investment.
In contrast, consider someone that is an early investor in a small startup company. Because the majority of businesses fail within their first three years of business, there is a high risk that the investor might lose all or a portion of his investment. Due to the high risk, the investor will need a very high return on his investment since it is very risky.
Therefore, a risk-free investment should not be accompanied by a high rate of returns. If you come across an investment promising a risk-free investment with high returns, it is probably a scam.
You can ask them for more supporting documentation on their claims and historical past, but remember that pretty much everything can be doctored up. Our suggestion would be for you to steer clear of any investment offering you a risk-free way of earning high returns.
Glossy Marketing Materials
Our next red flag isn’t always a sure thing when it comes to scams. While most scams out there use glossy brochures and marketing materials, so do many legitimate banks and investment houses. If you do get some glossy materials, you should do more homework before deciding if you will invest.
If the materials that you’ve received come from a place that you currently invest or bank with, then you’re probably in good hands. You’re also probably in good shape if the documents are from a major bank or investment firm that you know the name and credibility of.
Examples of these types of companies would be Merrill Lynch or Bank of America.
These are household names that are not going to offer any form of scam offerings.
However, if you receive materials from a company that you’ve never heard of, you should be suspicious. This is even truer if you’ve received these materials unsolicited. There is a good chance that unsolicited glossy materials from a company that you’ve never heard of are a scam.
Fraudsters will often use these glossy marketing materials to catch the eye of people they are trying to scam. Often, you’ll find these fancy materials packed with lots of charts and technical financial terms. At first glance, they will look extremely professional.
After all, you wouldn’t consider investing in something if someone sent you an unprofessional marketing material. The fraudsters that run these scams are very good at what they do, and they work hard to get people to fall for their scam.
If you’ve received glossy marketing materials promoting some sort of sports investment or software, you should consider it with caution. As we mentioned earlier, there is a possibility that everything is on the up and up, but that isn’t always the case.
Before investing a dime, make sure that you’ve done your homework to make sure that the company is not a fraud. When in doubt, don’t invest!
Something else that should raise a flag for you is if a person or marketing material is using very technical terminology. This is often a tool that fraudsters will use to scam folks. By using technical terminology, they hope that their investment opportunity will sound like a great idea. After all, it can’t be bad if they know what they are talking about, right?
For the most part, a non-scam opportunity won’t need all sorts of fancy terminology. Anyone trying to sell you a sports betting software program or investment opportunity should be able to explain it to you in layman’s terms. If they keep reverting back to very technical stuff, then you’re probably in scam territory.
We would suggest that you ask them to explain it to you without all of the technical terminologies and see how they do. You can simply ask them to dull it down for you. If they struggle to explain it without all of their fancy words, then you probably need to look elsewhere.
Once again, we’ll remind you that you should always walk away if you’re ever not feeling 100% right.
The last major red flag when it comes to sports betting scams is a ticking clock. Often, fraudsters will tell you that you need to get in on their scheme now, before it is too late. The scammers will use this maneuver to try and box you in. If you feel that this is a limited time opportunity, you might make a fast decision and get in before you have much time to do homework.
The main goal of the fraudsters boxing you in with a ticking clock is to create urgency. Fraudsters also like using this method as it does not give you a ton of time to investigate their claims, software, or track record. It creates a big win for the fraudsters if you act fast without doing your homework.
While there are some investment opportunities out there that are legitimate and have a limited time opportunity, most scams will follow this same script. Don’t feel pressured to purchase software or invest in a betting syndicate or sports investment just because they say that the window is closing.
It’s not worth you potentially losing your hard earned cash because you didn’t do your homework. Always take your time.
How to Stay Safe
It is important that you take steps to help protect yourself from sports betting scams. In this section, we’ve pulled together our top six things that you can do to help keep yourself safe from scams.
By following this advice, you’ll be much less likely to fall victim to one of the sports betting scams listed above.
Trust Your Instincts
Our top tip for helping you to stay safe when it comes to sports betting scams is to trust your instincts. If something just doesn’t feel right, walk away from it. You should be 100% comfortable with any sports betting investment or software program. If you’re not, do yourself a favor and walk away. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t Bend to Pressure
It is very important that you never bend to pressure when it comes to sports investments or software opportunities. You should never feel pressured to buy anything or buy into anything. As we discussed above, the ticking clock is a method that fraudsters commonly use to get people to act quickly before they have time to do research.
If you feel pressured to make a decision, just walk away. A true investment opportunity will not require high-pressure sales.
Ignore Cold Solicitations
One of our best tips when it comes to staying safe from sports betting scams is for you simply to ignore cold solicitations. This applies regardless of whether the solicitation came via mail or through a cold call. If someone reaches out to you about a sports betting software or investment opportunity, just ignore it.
Most likely, this is a scam. The only time to think about one of these software or opportunities is if a close friend is the one introducing it to you. Otherwise, we’d just hang up the phone or throw out the junk mail.
Do Your Own Homework
It is key that you always do your own homework when you are considering any form of sports investment or betting software. Due to all of the fraud out there, you unfortunately can’t rely on the materials and information that they provide you.
As we’ve detailed above, fraudsters will often use fancy marketing materials on glossy brochures that look super professional. However, this is all a part of their plan.
One of the easiest things that you can do
is some research for yourself on the internet.
Try using Google to look up the company name and see what types of results you get. If you don’t find much out there on the company name, that is not a good sign. Another thing that you can try is to look up their address.
In many cases, fraudsters will use just a postal box address instead of having a real office. If you can’t find a record of an actual office existing, walk away from the opportunity.
Seek Independent Guidance
If you’ve done your own homework and you’re still unsure about the legitimacy of the opportunity, we’d next suggest that you seek out independent guidance. When it comes to sports investments, we’d suggest that you seek the counsel of a banker that you currently have a relationship with.
This could be your personal banker or your investment banker. In either case, send them the materials that you have received and ask them their opinion.
Another option is for you to seek legal counsel if you’re unsure about things.
This is especially true if you’ve received legal documents relating to any betting software or sports investment. It’s worth having a true legal professional review the documents to let you know if they see any red flags contained within them.
Watch for Fees
When it comes to a sports investment or betting software, make sure that you have a good grasp on what to expect from an ongoing fees perspective. Often, people become so focused on the upfront fees that they forget to ask about ongoing fees. Before you make any investment, be sure to know what fees, if any, will apply on an ongoing basis.
The investment in front of you might not seem so bad at first. However, if you find out that there are hundreds of dollars in annual fees each year, you might change your mind. Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure that you have the full picture of costs and fees before you make any investment.
Know How to Cancel
Our last and final tip applies to both sports investments and betting software. Before you send them a dime, make sure that you know how and when you can cancel. While investigating this, you might come across a wild policy that makes it nearly impossible for you to cancel at any time.
Ultimately, your goal should be to find a cancellation policy that doesn’t have a bunch of hoops you need to jump through.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ve gathered some of the most common questions that we hear about sports betting scam and scandals. Be sure to check them out as you too might have these same questions.
Are all sports betting investments and software programs a scam?
By no means are all sports betting investments and software programs scams. However, there are some bad apples out there looking to take advantage of people. As we’ve suggested above, it is best if you only proceed after doing plenty of homework to validate all of their claims and promises.
What should I do if I’ve been scammed?
If you’ve been scammed, we’d suggest that you start by contacting your local authorities. Depending on where you live, this might be your local police station or Sheriff’s office. If your local authority is not the right place for you, they’ll be able to point you in the proper direction for your next steps.