Criminals Tapped Into Live Sports Feeds to Get One Step Ahead of Sportsbooks

  • The criminals were able to get up to a 30-second advantage over sportsbooks
  • They used satellite technology to directly tap into the live sports feeds
  • Police in Spain have already made numerous arrests as part of the investigation
Satellite in space
A criminal group tapped into live sports feeds to get an edge over sportsbooks when placing wagers. [Image:]

A major operation

The authorities in Spain have broken up a major sports betting ring that was using satellite technology to gain an edge over operators. They were able to eke out a 20-second or 30-second advantage over sportsbooks when placing bets, allowing them to lock in significant gains. The group was also allegedly involved in match-fixing.

seized signal receivers, satellite dishes, cell phones, counterfeit money

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock spoke about how crime groups can “exploit the tiniest of gaps given the opportunity.” Law enforcement seized signal receivers, satellite dishes, cell phones, counterfeit money, debit and credit cards, prepaid SIMs, and identification documents during the course of their raids.

High tech system

Spanish police first became aware of certain suspicious wagering activity in 2020 involving a table tennis tournament. This led to an investigation which culminated in the take down of the widespread ring. Members of the betting ring used satellite technology to tap directly into live sports feeds from arenas, pitches, and stadiums. This meant that they could place wagers before the sportsbooks could change the odds as operators relied on slower satellite feeds.

The main parties in the investigation were the national police in Spain, Europol, and the Spanish tax agency.

The Spain-based criminal group reportedly has its origins in Bulgaria and Romania. One of its main focuses was on soccer, including games at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year and the German Bundesliga, as well as ITF and ATP tennis tournaments. They allegedly also bribed athletes to fix certain outcomes during games.

Getting to grips with the group

Police have already made numerous arrests in the case and are still trying to identify other group members and athletes who took bribes. One of the people that Spanish police already arrested worked at a major sportsbook and was able to validate the wagers the criminals were placing online. The group would use other individuals to place the bets on their behalf, with the authorities ultimately blocking 28 payment gateways and 47 bank accounts.

Interpol has warned other countries about the methods

Details of the group’s specific techniques to con sportsbooks were revealed during the yearly Interpol Match-Fixing Task Force meeting. Interpol has warned other countries about the methods and is trying to learn more about the leader of the group and bring them to justice.

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