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PhD thesis delves into murky world of illegal sports betting

“Exceptional” PhD thesis delves into murky world of illegal sports betting

Monday 30 April 2018

University of Otago Postgraduate student Minyheok Tak has achieved the rare feat of producing a PhD thesis awarded “Exceptional” status by an external examination panel.
Minyheok’s thesis titled “Sports on the gambling table: An institutional approach to match-fixing”, focusses on the dramatic increases in illegal sports betting and match-fixing.
Minyheok says the rise of legalised sports betting is a factor in the growing prevalence of illegal sports betting and match-fixing activity now considered the biggest threat to the integrity and future of sport itself.

“Because from the perspective of punters - they just shop around for the best deal on the internet. With some sports betting legalised, as is the case here in New Zealand, there is a blurred moral line between what is legal and illegal - so people might place an ‘illegal bet’ but they still think it is legal behaviour,” Minyheok says.

Minyheok’s thesis concentrated on illegal betting in his home country, South Korea.

Professor Steve Jackson, of the University’s School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, says Minyheok is a remarkable young scholar.

“Minyheok’s thesis has received the “Exceptional Status” which I believe only goes to the top 10 per cent of all PhDs, so in that sense it’s recognised within the University and within academia in general, and certainly the external examiners from overseas had a lot of praise for the quality of what he has achieved,” Professor Jackson says.

Minyheok’s research has already won two international awards: The International Sociology of Sport Association’s ‘Best Graduate Paper’, plus the European Association of Sociology of Sport’s ‘Young Scholar Award’.

Professor Jackson believes that as the thesis investigates a real-world growing problem, there is a busy future ahead for Minyheok.

“We hope the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will take an interest in the research and support a fully global study, and we’re also looking to try and work with some of the international monitoring corporations that are trying to track illegal sports betting and match fixing. I think Minyheok is really well positioned to try and bridge some of the challenges that sports organisations have, along with governments themselves who are concerned with loss of income,” Professor Jackson says.

Minyheok will present a seminar about his thesis this Thursday at 4PM at the School of Physical Education Sport and Exercise Sciences (entry at 55 Union Street, 1st Floor Seminar Room).

A video featuring Minyheok and Professor Jackson is available here : sports betting.mp4 (220.2 MB)
Video also available on YouTube:

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