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Tea Leaves

Growth in Asian sports corruption causes a flutter

Gambling industry remains a good bet, despite legal handicaps

People walk past a Hong Kong Jockey Club off-course branch promoting soccer betting. In 2021, 11 of the 20 soccer teams in the English Premier League had Chinese betting companies as shirt sponsors.   © Reuters

The news in August that the Chinese Football Association was investigating an under-15 game because of suspected match-fixing was depressing, but not wholly surprising. Corruption in sport is a negative byproduct of the love for gambling that is widespread in Asia, which governments around the region have found difficult to control.

If the center of the global economy is moving ever more eastward the same can be said of the betting industry. Austrian sports betting specialist Arland estimates that the Asia-Pacific market was worth $72.2 billion in 2019, accounting for 48% of the global market. Gambling is illegal across much of the continent, apart from occasional horse races and state-run lotteries, but that does not seem to act as much of a brake on its popularity.

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