Are you playing with integrity?

Policy Manager, Leigh Thompson, blogs about the risks to sport from betting corruption and why NGBs should attend the upcoming Sports Betting Integrity Forum event at Lord's Cricket Ground on 21 September to learn more about how to put in place simple measures to protect the integrity of their sports.

Basking in the afterglow of a hugely successful Rio Olympic Games for Team GB and with the Paralympic Games just around the corner, it is easy to forget that success in elite sport nowadays brings not just huge rewards but also, unfortunately, huge risks. A particular concern is the risk of betting corruption – which can typically involve the manipulation of a sporting event and/or the passing on of privileged inside information for financial gain through betting.

I say this not to dampen the post-Olympic or pre-Paralympic Games mood but to state a general truth which is that as sports become more successful and gain exposure – particularly on television and increasingly online – the greater the likelihood they will attract betting interest. As an example, the Olympic Games in Rio saw the BBC broadcast over 3,000 hours of action across all its platforms and Channel 4 plans to broadcast around 700 hours from the Paralympics Games. That’s a lot of action to bet on.

I also say this for another reason which is that for some sports, betting corruption has not, historically at least, been considered a major concern. However, as betting markets expand to cover an increasingly wide range of sports and betting itself becomes more accessible, it is important all governing bodies are well-placed to respond to the risks.

Combining these elements together – greater broadcast exposure, increased betting interest and relatively limited levels of protection – it is a dangerous mix and why the forthcoming Sports Betting Integrity Forum event ‘Are you playing with integrity?’ on 21 September at Lord’s Cricket Ground is so important.

The event is aimed specifically at sports governing bodies (and betting operators) that may be relatively new to betting integrity and it is designed to provide attendees with the information and tools they need to put in place some simple measures to address the risks associated with sports betting corruption.

Experts from the Sports Betting Group will be on hand to share their knowledge and expertise and to explain the importance of protecting the integrity of sport from betting corruption. A brand new online presence will be launched at the event that will include some updated resources for governing bodies – all to help protect the integrity of sport.

If you are a governing body looking for free help and advice on betting integrity, I strongly recommend you sign up as soon as possible. Free advice tends to look a lot more valuable in hindsight but in the context of betting corruption, sport can’t say it hasn’t been warned.