On Thursday, May 9th Sport for Business will host a special Members Round Table on the subject at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Leaders from the major sports at risk, player representatives, betting companies and legal experts will gather to share knowledge and learn about aspects of the subject from around the world.
We will have a special guest in Paul Scotney, the former Director of Integrity Services at the British Horseracing Authority and now a freelance sports integrity consultant working with a number of sports providing guidance on betting related issues.
In this first of of this two part guest article he outlined the background to the increased threat to integrity resulting from the increased accessibility of betting platforms brought about by the digital age.
Now In this second part he highlights the six key strategic areas that Governing Bodies need to be aware of and to implement in order to address the threat of betting related corruption in sport.
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The Code of Conduct recommends the starting point for SGBs should be a ‘risk assessment’ of the potential threat that betting poses to a particular sport. A significant volume of betting on a sport creates a potential threat, higher than that for those with minimal betting.
Other factors include the range of type of betting markets offered on a sport outside of who will win an event (commonly referred to as ‘spot’ or ‘micro’ betting) and whether a sporting event is televised or streamed live on the internet because a larger audience increases the volume of betting.
Also, sports that are ‘one on one’ such as tennis, snooker or darts can carry a higher risk than a team sport, as the corruptors may only need to influence one individual to influence the outcome of a match, although spot betting can also potentially involve the influencing of only one individual.
Another key factor to consider is the vulnerability of a sport’s participants to corrupt approaches. Are the participants paid a low wage and therefore more likely to be tempted to corrupt and earn more money?
Precisely what resources an SGB may need to dedicate to an integrity unit will depend on the outcome of the ‘risk assessment. Horseracing is high risk because of its unique connection with betting and the large amounts of money that can be placed on a single race. Other sports that are potentially high risk because of their global popularity and regular television coverage include football, tennis and golf. All of these sports are now major betting products.
Clear rules and policies
All SGBs should have clear rules and policies dealing with betting by their participants, officials and administrators. In some cases, a complete ban on betting may be appropriate (as for jockeys in horseracing) or at least a prohibition on betting on certain events/competitions in which they are competing or officiating.
During a sporting event, restriction on the use of any form of communication equipment is a useful preventative measure. Having legitimate access to such equipment and a participant’s itemised billings will be an integral part of a subsequent investigation, together with the requirement for persons to attend interviews; all sports rules should include such provisions.
Corrupt betting often involves the misuse of ‘inside information’ so it is important that SGBs have a definition of what constitutes ‘inside information’ for their particular sport and clear guidance for all in the sport on how to deal with such matters. Sporting rules and policies should be complemented by an effective compliance and enforcement regime with a formal disciplinary process and appeals procedure to deal with breaches of the rules.
Robust licensing process
Not all sports participants are required to be licensed but for those that are, licensing can be an important part of an anticorruption strategy. In horseracing, all jockeys and trainers have to be licensed before they can take part in the sport. As a gateway to the sport it is an opportunity to judge whether an individual is not only professionally competent but whether they are also a ‘suitable person’ from an integrity perspective.
For those sports which do licence their participants, no one should have an automatic right to be licensed without first passing a suitability test; experience has shown that it is more effective to prevent a potentially corrupt person from entering the sport than detecting and excluding someone once they have been licensed.
An investigative and intelligence capability
Police forces regard intelligence as the ‘life blood’ in the fight against crime; the Parry Review recommended that SGBs adopt a similar principle and should either have an IT-based information and intelligence management system, or have access to such a facility.
Intelligence and analytical experts who are able to convert information and intelligence into evidence for any subsequent disciplinary hearing will also be required. The rigorous investigation of any suspicious betting activity on a sporting event is a vital element of an anticorruption strategy for SGBs.
Some sports have that capability but others do not and may have to rely on the Police or Gambling Commission to help them. Crucially, an investigation should take place – a belief by corruptors that they will be caught is the best possible deterrent.
Joint working with the betting industry
It is important for SGBs and betting operators to collaborate on these issues. For many millions of people in Great Britain and globally, betting on sport is now a mainstream leisure activity; betting and sport are now inextricably linked.
The most likely source of intelligence on suspicious sports betting activity will be the betting markets and a subsequent disciplinary enquiry is more likely to succeed if there is evidence of who placed the bets and when.
Currently, the online arm of the majority of betting operators, offering bets on sport in Great Britain, are now based off-shore. This means that they are not subject to the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice which stipulate in Condition 15.1 that information must be provided to the Gambling Commission and SGBs on suspicion of offences under the Act, including breaches of a sport’s rules.
At this time SGBs in Great Britain have to rely on informal information-sharing agreements with the betting operators, although encouragingly many now have them in place (in some cases for nearly 10 years). The large majority of betting operators in Great Britain now readily share information with both the Gambling Commission and SGBs when suspicious betting is confirmed.
Disappointingly, a small minority of operators still use ‘client confidentiality’ or ‘commercial reasons’ as an explanation for not reporting suspicious betting activity. Sports with a high volume of betting may want to consider employing betting analysts who can proactively monitor the betting markets. Another option is for SGBs to utilise the services of a commercial operator which specialises in monitoring the betting markets on their behalf. The minimum SGBs are likely to need is access to someone who can help interpret betting data and prepare betting evidence for disciplinary hearings.
Education and awareness
A fundamental element of any anti-corruption strategy is education and awareness. Most SGBs (working with players associations) have made good progress, in particular ensuring that all individuals connected with a sport are clear on the rules around betting and the issue of ‘inside information’. Importantly, education and awareness should be seen as part of an anti-corruption strategy, not instead of it.
The principal focus of an anticorruption strategy is to prevent, deter and detect corruption. To achieve that objective SGBs should consider establishing an integrity unit, or at least have readily available access to the necessary expertise. All SGBs should have a clear strategy to address suspicious betting on their sport. Dealing with integrity issues does not come cheap. The thorny issue of ‘who pays’ is still open to debate.
At the moment it falls mainly to sport, although the betting industry has contributed funding towards education programmes. The hope is that SGBs, when discussing the issue of betting related integrity with betting operators, can separate it from other wider integrity and commercial issues; maybe then more betting operators will be willing to help fund the fight against an issue that is as damaging to them as it is to sport.[/ismember]
To see more Sport for Business analysis of betting click here.
Sport for Business will host a special Members Round Table at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Dublin on Thursday, May 9th.
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