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What is a Sports Betting Syndicate?

November 17, 2021
Sports Betting Syndicates - Are they legal?

In its simplest terms, a sports betting syndicate is loosely defined as a group of people that get together to try and win money betting on sports using coordinated plays. Over the years ‘betting syndicate’ has come to mean many things. In this article we will identify the different incarnations of the sports betting syndicate.

The Beginning

Not long after the first sportsbook started taking bets from the general public the first syndicate was formed. Its the natural move to try and capitalize on a potential new revenue stream. In the United States the first sports bets were accepted over 100 years ago. Everything back then was moneyline or odds payout. An example would be 4/1. Betting was mostly done on boxing and baseball in the beginning.

It wasn’t until decades later that the point spread was invented. This really helped add a new dynamic to the way in which sports were bet. Loose groups of bettors would form to share their information and agree on which bet or bets may be the best on the board. These were the very first real syndicates. We have no names or faces to attach to them but they did in fact exist and were known to move the betting line when they placed their bets.

Organized Crime

Organized crime, often called “the mob”, has been around as long as there have been laws prohibiting certain behaviors. If a law says you can’t do XYZ, an organized crime group would fill that void and offer XYZ illegally.

Since the dawn of sports betting, organized crime has been involved with taking bets, placing bets and fixing games/matches. Boxing matches were being “fixed” dating way back to the 1800’s. Though none of those very first fixes are well-documented, oral tradition speaks of infamous dives and fixed fights. Fixed games or matches have been one way that syndicates have cashed in on sports betting. Either the fix was done by the syndicate themselves or a syndicate got wind of the fix and spread the information.

Public Syndicates

There are many sports pick syndicates out there. In the 70’s – 90’s you would see advertisements “for syndicate football plays call 1-900- blah blah blah and pay $25 for our syndicate picks”. With the advent of the internet, syndicates built websites and offered their plays online. I am sure you can still find a website claiming to sell syndicate picks by doing a simple Google search.

Private Syndicates

These syndicates were the stuff of legend back in the days. You would hear a guy talking about how their cousin’s brother’s roommate was in a sports betting syndicate and he said XYZ was a lock this weekend. The syndicates they spoke of were the professional sports bettors which shared their information on the phone and all agreed on certain plays. These syndicates were private so you never really knew who was in them or how good the second, third or fourth hand information really was.

Sportsbook and Syndicates

Many online sportsbooks have specific rules against syndicate play in their terms and conditions.  In their view, its hard enough to take shots from the general public but to be victim of an organized group known for winning bets is just too much to handle. They often employ algorithms to identify syndicate play and will sometimes boot players form their system.

Brick and mortar sportsbooks do not like syndicate play any better. If you kick their teeth in on a regular basis and they suspect you are part of a betting syndicate they may tell you that your action is no longer welcome.

Conclusion

By the simplest definition of the term ‘sports syndicate’ there probably exists many thousands of syndicates world-wide. They collude and conspire to take money from the sportsbook. This does not always mean they succeed. Many sports betting syndicates have gone bust. Being in a syndicate or buying information from one does not guarantee a profit.