Teams competing at the Cricket World Cup will be able to throw matches without breaking new match-fixing laws, a parliamentary committee says.

The new laws, which are being passed under urgency before New Zealand hosts two major sporting events, will criminalise only the manipulation of a game to influence a betting outcome.

Officials have also confirmed that the "fixers" who initiate match-fixing will be captured by the new legislation, after legal experts and sporting bodies expressed concern that the masterminds behind illegal betting could evade prosecution.

Law and order select committee chairman Mike Sabin said the law change was deliberately very narrow so it did not pick up other forms of manipulation, such as when a team deliberately lost a game to secure an easier match in the next round.


"Because obviously in sports there are many varied ways in which sporting outcomes can be altered for lots of different reasons.

"But it's very much the intention in the policy not to criminalise behaviour of that nature. It's really where someone's trying to alter an outcome to get a pecuniary advantage through betting."

The legislation is being passed under urgency in preparation for the Cricket World Cup in February and the under-20 Football World Cup in May. It will make match-fixing a form of deception, which means it will be punishable by a maximum of seven years' jail.

The New Zealand Racing Board and other submitters said it appeared the law change would not punish fixers or other behind-the-scenes people who had significant influence over illegal betting.

In advice to the committee, Sport New Zealand officials said this was not necessarily the case.

"Depending on the facts, circumstances and evidence, the alternative of prosecution as a party (one who helps or encourages another person to commit an offence) will be available against the fixer," officials said.

The Racing Board questioned whether blackmail was outside the scope of the bill given that there had been a trend of coercing athletes into fixing matches.

Officials said the offence needed to be narrow so that it did not "over-criminalise" and a person could already be found liable for blackmail under present laws.


Sport New Zealand confirmed that a New Zealander who was a resident overseas could still be captured by the new rules.

New Zealand authorities will be able to prosecute if any of the match-fixing process - a discussion, a transaction, or the actual game - took place in this country.

The changes

• Match-fixing will become a form of deception under the Crimes Act
• Punishable by maximum sentence of 7 years in prison
• Applies only to manipulation of a game which aims to influence betting outcome
• Applies to spot-fixing and alerting the overall result of a match
• Designed to deter match-fixing during Cricket World Cup and U20 Football World • Cup in New Zealand
• Comes into force December 15.