Insider Betting Explained
While controversial, a fundamental reality within the sports betting world is that people can sometimes get access to insider information. Naturally, many bettors in such a situation would be lured to use this information to their advantage to get big wins, resulting in what is known as insider betting. However, there are rules and legal implications surrounding this act.
This guide explains everything a punter needs to know about betting with inside information. We will explore the following key points:
- What is insider betting?
- Famous examples of insider betting
- Rules of insider betting
- Sports that are vulnerable to insider wagering
- What do you do when you get insider knowledge?
What Is Insider Betting?
Insider betting is a situation where someone places bets on certain events using restricted and confidential information that isn’t in the public domain. Punters can gain access to this information from a variety of sources. For example, a punter who is a good friend of a professional football player could hear about transfer news before the info becomes public. Besides sports, it could also be a family member who works with a reality TV show, giving you information on results that have not yet been announced.
As a general rule of thumb, if a piece of information is not public knowledge, it is illegal to take advantage of it when betting. However, it can sometimes be difficult to draw a clear line between insider info and what is still okay. After all, you could accidentally overhear confidential information you didn’t intentionally set out to find out.
Famous Examples of Insider Betting
Because of its potential to yield significant wins, punters with exclusive info are easily tempted to exploit it for substantial returns. As a result, the annals of the gambling industry have been marked with several instances of insider sports betting over the years. Some of these go unnoticed, but many have also been caught, with some becoming famous scandals in the betting world.
Let’s check out some of the most famous instances of insider betting throughout the past.
Reality TV Phone Poll Results
Insider bets are not limited to sports betting alone. After all, many bookmakers cover a wide range of non-sporting events and outcomes, including reality TV shows. Some of the most scandalous cases of wagering with inside information have happened with these shows.
Reality shows often leave the final decisions on contestants to the public through voting. Hence, information on the collated votes has been known to leak before the official announcement in a few instances over the years. One such case happened in 2005 when the police investigated a betting ring suspiciously earning thousands of pounds through insider betting. The betting ring was placing wagers and winning consistently on the outcomes of shows like The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. So, the police believed that the ring was getting their information through someone working for the telephone company BT, who ran the phone polls for the concerned shows.
The group got discovered because all of their bets came in later in the day when the information regarding the results would have been collated and from the same computers. Interestingly, even though one of the group members was indeed a staff of BT, they denied using insider betting tips and claimed they were just lucky. Ultimately, the group walked away with about £60,000 in winnings but had £45,000 frozen due to investigations.
Virgin Media Workers Gain the Advantage Betting on the X-Factor
Another major insider betting scandal in reality television happened in 2011 during the X Factor show. This time, it involved three Virgin Media Company employees responsible for operating the phones for the show. During investigations led by the Gambling Commission, it came to light that these individuals placed more than £16,000 in wagers using their exclusive access to confidential information on the show’s vote.
The Virgin phone operators placed insider bets on Betfair, who were the ones that reported the suspicious betting patterns from the trio. The Gambling Commission and media regulator Ofcom confirmed that the incident didn’t compromise the integrity of the public vote. After the investigation, the bets were voided, and Virgin Media dismissed the employees.
Footballer Bets on His Own Transfer
Even professional athletes are not immune to the allure of gambling with insider knowledge. One such instance happened in 2017 when an unnamed professional football player in the English Premier League placed a bet on his own transfer to another club. The case came to light when a sportsbook insider revealed the information. Surprisingly, the player stood to win just £5,000 from the wager, a small amount for such risk. Naturally, this bet insider wager was voided when it came to the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) attention, resulting in the player’s account being closed.
Sports Vulnerable to Insider Betting
Virtually every sport can record cases of insider betting as long as a punter gets access to privileged information. However, some sports are more vulnerable to this problem due to their dynamic nature and level of access to information. Let’s check out a few of them below:
Football and other large team sports:Football and other team sports, in general, typically have a lot of people involved in their operations, from the players to the coaching staff, medical staff, officials, etc. When betting on the NHL, English Premier League, Cricket World Cup, or any other major team sports event, there are usually more sources of information about potential outcomes. For example, a medical staff member on a team, knowing that a key player would be missing in an upcoming game, may decide to bet against the team.
Solo sports:Solo sports like tennis, boxing, MMA, etc., are also vulnerable to cases of sports betting insider tips that punters can use to their advantage. The coaches, trainers, officials, and other personnel involved in tennis matches may have access to nonpublic information about players’ injuries, fitness, etc., giving them an unfair advantage in betting.
Horse racing:In horse racing, while you can’t precisely predict how a horse feels, you can learn a lot from the jockeys, trainers, and even stable staff, who usually have access to non-public info about a horse’s fitness form, etc. With the many people involved in horse racing operations, it will be no exaggeration to say that sports betting insider happens regularly in the sport. For example, a horse trainer may decide to bet against a horse that is underperforming during training.
Less popular and low-level sports:Some individuals pay for insider information regarding sports events. Naturally, such money would have more sway, with people earning a smaller amount than top league sports earners. So, less popular sports and low-level leagues and events tend to be more vulnerable to cases of leaking sports betting insider information.
Amateur sports:Unlike professional sports and leagues, amateur sports tend to have less strict codes of conduct that all players, officials, etc., involved must always adhere to. So, these sports and their events tend to be more vulnerable to interference and inside wagering incidents.
Tips If You Get Insider Info
There is no denying that it is a moral problem when in the position of having information that you can make money off of by placing bets. But you should be aware that sport prop bets with insider info and other wager types are considered illegal and can result in undesirable legal consequences, including imprisonment.
UKGC Guide to Misuse of Inside Information
As mentioned, insider betting is considered an illegal act that gives punters an unfair advantage over others. But the big question is who decides what is considered betting with insider information, and what yardsticks do they use? The truth is that this subject is not completely simple, and it can be challenging to know where to draw the line. That is why authorities and gaming commissions make rules regarding the issue within their jurisdictions. One betting and gaming council that is known to take the cases of insider betting seriously is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).
UKGC has a guide that shows the specific rules and legislation surrounding insider wagering. The commission has a spectrum of six different instances of betting with information. Two of these six are considered legitimate use of information where the wagers are not tagged insider bets, as seen in the table below.
|Type of Instance||What it means||UKGC’s View/Input|
|The art of betting||Regards using public information that any punter can easily find by researching||Not insider betting No concern|
|By chance (uninformed)||Involves betting with tips or info gotten from someone without realizing that it is privileged information||Not insider betting No concern|
Conversely, the remaining four instances on the UKGC’s list involve situations viewed as gambling with insider knowledge. UKGC plays a role in these cases, as seen in the table below:
|Type of Instance||What it means||UKGC’s Input|
|By chance (informed)||Involves betting with tip or info gotten from someone and knowing that the information is confidential and should not be used for personal gain||Considers sports rules, education programs, and referral to the employer and the Sport Governing Body (SBG)|
|Restricted information||Involves betting with information gained because an individual is connected to the sport or has a close association with someone connected to it||Any bets here are voided, and appropriate sanctions are made through the SBG or employer for the informant.|
|Awareness of possible criminality or malfunction||Involves an individual who becomes aware of some criminality or malfunction in sports events and uses the information to engage in a well-placed bet||Bets here are voided, and appropriate criminal investigation will be considered, depending on each case. Non-involved persons who are only aware of the info would be referred to the SGB or employer for appropriate sanction.|
|Manipulation of the event||Involves individuals that intentionally manipulate an event or part of it, like spot-fixing and match-fixing||Same as above|
Michael J Fox Arrested for Insider Sports Betting
A report about Michael J Fox being arrested for sports wagering insider hit the entertainment world on October 21, 2015. However, this news report was a hoax, and no arrest was made. The whole thing started as a joke in celebration of the iconic 1989 American science fiction film “Back to the Future,” where Michael J. Fox played the lead character Marty McFly. In the movie, Marty McFly traveled back to the future on October 21, 2015, the same date the report came out. Part of the movie’s plot involved Biff Tannen, the series antagonist, giving his younger self a sports almanac so he can make millions in gambling, which is eerily similar to what the fake news reported.
The fake news report asserted that Michael J Fox was suspected of insider sports betting at DraftKings after getting a statistically impossible perfect betting record under the username “NoChicken.” It was a clever echo of McFly’s go-to catchphrase in the movie — “Don’t call me chicken!” The report went further to assert that the “Back to the Future” movies were, in fact, documentaries from an original prime timeline, and Michael J Fox has traveled through time with Dr Emmett Brown, damaging the space-time continuum. This theory came with seemingly legit comments and quotes from FBI and NSA spokespeople.
The shocking thing about this story is that many people took this amusing publication quite seriously, and it went viral within a few hours on several news communities like Reddit, Quora, and other blogs.
While the allure of gambling with insider knowledge can be enticing, it’s not a wise decision. Not only does the practice undermine the principle of fair gambling by providing an unfair advantage, but it also has some far-reaching legal consequences. So, if you ever find yourself in a position with insider information, it’s best not to use it for your wagering purpose. You should also report any suspicious insider wagering activities to the appropriate authorities to protect the integrity of gambling.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is insider sports betting?Insider sports betting refers to using non-public information to gain an unfair advantage in sports gambling. It usually involves individuals with access to knowledge about confidential details regarding player injuries, team news, team strategies, etc. Insider bets can also happen in non-sports events like reality TV shows.
Is insider betting legal?Insider betting is considered unethical, fraudulent, and illegal in most jurisdictions. The act undermines the integrity of sports and events and the fairness of betting. As a result, engaging in insider bets can result in significant financial penalties, criminal charges, and even imprisonment.
Can betting company staff place bets?Betting companies typically ban their staff from placing bets on platform outcomes. However, nothing stops the same staff from going to another betting site to create an account and place wagers there.
Are tipping services considered insider betting?Tipping services are generally not considered sources of insider information as they usually base their tips on a thorough analysis of publicly available information. However, some high-end tipping services do utilize insider information. So, it’s essential to verify the credibility and transparency of a tipping service before using it.
Is courtsiding insider betting?Courtsiding is a form of sports betting where punters attend sports events live and place bets on real-time, non-confidential information during the game. The wager utilizes the technical factors provided by the slight gap between a result happening and the official result reflecting. While it is also frowned upon, courtsiding is different from insider betting.
Was Michael J Fox arrested for insider sports betting?No, Michael J Fox was never arrested for insider sports betting. The news report about the arrest was just a joke in celebration of the iconic Back to the Future movie, where Fox played the lead character. The report came out on the same date Fox’s character traveled to the future in the movie’s second part — October 21, 2015.