Last week I attended an event hosted by the Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF) entitled ‘Are you playing with integrity?’ Overall the event provided a great deal of food for thought but, in keeping with a key theme of this blog, I’ll keep it simple and start with the key takeaways from the day for sports governing bodies:
· Engage with betting operators and the Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit – they can help you to understand the betting on your sport and facilitate the sharing of suspicious betting information.
Held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the event brought together a range of sports governing bodies, competition organisers and betting operators to consider the national approach to tackling sports betting corruption and to share knowledge and good practice.
Firstly, I have realised how easy it is to exist in what might be termed an ‘integrity bubble’ where everyone you talk to is a specialist who understands the language and acronyms common to discussions about betting integrity (and let’s face it, we love our acronyms: SBIF, SBIU, SBG, MoU, CoE… the list is endless). However, outside this bubble, the reality is that in most governing bodies the people charged with the responsibility for betting integrity are not full-time specialists and often have a wide range of other, additional duties to fulfil.
Secondly, the event highlighted the willingness of betting operators to assist sports governing bodies on integrity issues – for example, by sharing detailed information to assist investigations into suspected betting corruption and breaches of sports rules. It is probably fair to say sport and betting have been uncomfortable bedfellows in the past so it is refreshing to see this increased level of engagement. It also serves as a helpful reminder that sports betting corruption will never be addressed properly if sport and betting operators simply point the finger at each other – cooperation is key.
In this respect it is no surprise that the Sports Betting Group Code of Practice identifies the introduction of information sharing agreements as one of the key actions governing bodies should take to ensure they can access suspicious betting information to support the investigation and potential prosecution of betting offences. Likewise, the Sports Betting Group website now contains links to governing bodies’ betting rules and reporting contacts. This information should assist betting operators in identifying when bets are placed in breach of sports rules and who they can contact within governing bodies should this occur.
Ultimately, the day was an important reminder that sport has a responsibility for protecting integrity but also that discharging this responsibility can be made a lot easier by utilising the support and resources that are already out there. The key is to keep it simple and cooperate.