Factsheet - Match-Fixing Criminal Offences
11 June 2019
Summary of our match-fixing policy's provisions regarding criminal offenses.
The New Zealand Policy on Sports Match-Fixing and Related Corruption (the NZ match-fixing policy) stresses the importance of a strong legal framework, including criminal sanctions, to deter and address match-fixing.
In 2014, section 240A was inserted into the Crimes Act 1961 to clarify that match-fixing is a form of deception. This amendment to the Crimes Act ensures that anyone who obtains a benefit or causes a loss by engaging in match-fixing will be liable to a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
What is match-fixing?
Under the Crimes Act, match-fixing is the manipulation of a sports match or racing event with intent to influence a betting outcome.
The Crimes Act targets the most serious form of match-fixing: the manipulation of a match or race for betting returns.
What does section 240A of the Crimes Act do?
It clarifies that match-fixing is a form deception under section 240 of the Crimes Act – the offence of obtaining a benefit or causing a loss by deception.
The Act ensures that anyone who obtains a benefit or causes a loss by engaging in match-fixing will commit an offence and will be liable to a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
Why should match-fixing be a criminal offence?
Match-fixing damages the integrity, value and growth of sport.
Sport is a significant economic activity contributing $5 billion to New Zealand’s economy. It also plays an important role in the development of young people and in engaging our communities.
Match-fixing is similar to fraud-based offending where significant amounts of money can be involved.
Is some match-fixing already covered by other offences?
Some instances of match-fixing may already be covered by existing fraud and anti-corruption offences. However, there is some uncertainty about the application of these offences to match-fixing as they were not specifically designed to cover this activity.
The Crimes Act makes it clear that match-fixing can be an offence against section 240 of the Crimes Act – the offence of obtaining a benefit or causing a loss by deception.
Why was the amendment to the Crimes Act proposed?
The threat of match-fixing is growing internationally. While there is nothing to suggest a current problem in New Zealand, it would be naïve to assume our athletes and teams are immune from its reach.
Also, we need to ensure criminal sanctions are available to address possible match-fixing ahead of hosting international events.
Why is the definition of match-fixing tied to betting?
Match-fixing is usually motivated by a desire to obtain betting returns. Criminals may seek to pre-determine aspects of a sporting match so that returns can be made in the betting market.
Tying match-fixing to betting also helps to avoid possible over-criminalisation. It is important not to criminalise the kind of rule breaking that occurs in sport, such as ball tampering in cricket.
Such improper manipulation of a sporting match or race can be addressed by the governing sports body.
Why is racing also covered by section 240A of the Crimes Act?
Racing is susceptible to being ‘fixed’ just like other sporting events.
What about cross-border issues that may arise in instances of match-fixing?
The default rules under the Crimes Act will apply. This means that New Zealand authorities will have jurisdiction to prosecute where any act or omission forming part of the offence, or any event necessary to the completion of the offence, occurs in New Zealand. However, should a New Zealand athlete be caught match-fixing in another country then they may be liable for prosecution under that country’s laws.