Lithuania signs with EWS

In a bid to tighten up on suspicious Internet sportsbetting on major football games, Lithuania has signed up with a company created with the help of FIFA to help it monitor suspicious betting patterns and improve precautions against corrupt practices.

Early Warning System says its deal with Lithuania is its first agreement involving a national football association, and will deploy information from a network of 400 worldwide betting operators in order to track betting patterns when the country's national league kicks off next (April) month.

"In Lithuania they think there can be a danger in their own league and wanted to know more about sports betting," Wolfgang Feldner, head of strategy at the Zurich-based EWS told Associated Press.

Legal online sports betting worldwide was estimated to be worth $20 billion last year, with much more money staked with illegal bookmakers, the Associated Press report reveals. Matches played in Eastern Europe, which attract little publicity, have long been suspected as likely targets for being fixed.

Between 50 and 200 operators offer wagers each week on results from the eight-team "A" League in Lithuania, whose season is scheduled to start April 5 and run through November.

Feldner said matches in Lithuania and the Scandinavian countries are more popular with gamblers in the summer when the high-profile European leagues take a break.

EWS was created with the help of FIFA in 2007 to monitor betting patterns in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup. It was also asked by the International Olympic Committee to track betting on events at last year's Beijing Games.

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