International gambling sites are collecting play-by-play data on suburban basketball and football games around Australia, raising the spectre of match-fixing.
Sportradar, a company that monitors match-fixing for FIFA, is using a low-profile subsidiary to collect data from amateur sporting competitions on behalf of offshore live-betting sites.
This subsidiary, Real Time Sportscasts, targets students through university job boards, then sends them to amateur, semi-professional and low-level sports to collect the live data.
The scouts feed data into a call centre, where it is distributed to international gambling websites.
There is concern that the use of the data by those international gambling organisations may lead others to encourage match fixing on local Australian games.
Scott Boucher, administrator for Tasmania's Southern Basketball League, one amateur competition targeted by scouts, says players were shocked when they realised odds on their games were available around the world.
"They don't believe that someone would come along just to set up gambling on their games," he says.
He says the implications of offering these games for betting are obvious.
"I could see people backing themselves to lose when the odds were right, or not turning up to play, other people outside getting involved and coercing people to throw matches," Mr Boucher says.
"Wherever money's involved, there's always someone with an extra interest."
Calls for changes to gambling laws
In response to the revelations, Senator Nick Xenophon will push for a tightening of gambling laws.
"The potential for corrupting those sporting codes, the potential for compromising players and officials is just too great," Senator Xenophon says.
"We can't let our amateur sporting codes, our amateur games, be infected with gambling in this way."
"I mean, it seems that these people have no shame. It wouldn't surprise me if they decide to target an under-10 footy team somewhere in the country sooner rather than later, because right now, there are no checks, no controls, on the way these jokers operate."
Kate Tominac, a coach in the ACT Premier League Women's competition, another league that has attracted the interest of data scouts and the international betting market, says the scouts have dented her confidence.
"It makes you question every game, the officials, the other coach, the players," she says.
"I wouldn't ever imagine any of the girls in my team or any of the other teams doing that. But I mean, I wouldn't know to be honest. I wouldn't think about it. I won't try to think it about it that way."
Chris Eaton, a former Interpol officer and former head of security at FIFA, has flagged serious concerns about at least one international gambling website facilitating live betting on these matches.
Mr Eaton says this site may be owned by criminals that have used other sites to facilitate match-fixing in international football.
"If you want to control not just the match fix but the betting fraud, [you] manage a piece of the market so that you can not only manipulate odds to the favour of a fix, but be in a better ... informational position to determine the flow of the fraudulent wagering," Mr Eaton says.
There is no evidence of such activity happening in Australia as a result of this site, and Sportradar's managing director of strategy and integrity, Andreas Krannich, defended Real Time Sportscasts' use of scouts at local games.
"Sending scouts [to] matches, to different sports, to smaller events, to big events, is not something which is putting the respective sport into trouble or into risk," he says.
"If we do not send our controlled scouts to these events, you will see the scouts coming from bookmakers, and they will not be controlled.
"When we developed our scout business, it was a natural reaction to the request from the bookmaker industry, and by taking over this service from the bookmakers, we made it transparent and we prevented the dodgy people going to the events.
"At the end of the day, it's not that we are generating a market. We are responding to a market."
Memorandum between AFP, Sportsradar
Senator Xenophon also has concerns over a memorandum of understanding signed by Sportradar and the Australian Federal Police in 2015.
"We need to see that memorandum of understanding. If the AFP won't provide that willingly, then there is a mechanism through the Senate to have an order for production of documents, and that's something I'll be putting up," he says.
"I can imagine that Sportradar, this multinational corporation headquartered in St Gallen in Switzerland, is probably having a daily chuckle over the fact that they've managed to co-opt the Australian Federal Police, our premier law enforcement agency, to in effect assist them through this Memorandum of Understanding, do their business in Australia, which involves allowing people overseas to gamble on amateur sports."
Background Briefing submitted a freedom of information request for the memorandum, as well as alerts sent over suspicious matches and players, which uncovered numerous documents.
However, the AFP refused to make the documents available, saying their release would have an adverse effect on investigation and intelligence operations.
"The AFP has a non-legally binding memorandum of understanding in place with the Sportradar company to assist in sport integrity and intelligence matters," the AFP said in a statement.
"Services provided by Sportradar to commercial partners are a matter for Sportradar."