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Integrity of Sports Put at Risk by $1.7 Trillion in Illegal Bets, U.N. Says

  • Criminals are using the wagers to launder money globally
  • Illicit online operators use cryptocurrencies to hide actions
RF sports streaming soccer football
Photographer: Tero Vesalainen/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Illegal betting on sports may approach $1.7 trillion annually and is often used by criminals to launder money, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The estimate dwarfs the legal sports wagering market, which is about $40 billion, according to the report released Thursday. The increasing number and types of bets are complicating efforts by law enforcement to squash illegal wagering, as is a proliferation of rogue online operators using cryptocurrencies to disguise who is gambling.