Legal & Regulatory News

Europe’s regulated betting industry associations issued a joint report Monday highlighting the important commercial and integrity relationship that exists between the sporting and betting sectors, as ministers from around 50 countries prepare to meet in Switzerland to sign a new match-fixing convention.

Released by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), European Sport Security Association (ESSA), and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), the report examines the complex issue of sports integrity and the associated commercial issues that have risen to prominence in recent years.

The report shows that the “mutually beneficial commercial association between betting and sport has continued to grow” in recent years, with sponsorship and advertising becoming “a significant source of funding for sport”.

It also highlights the increasing investment by regulated betting operators in acquiring sports broadcasts for use in land-based facilities and interactive streaming channels, and the licensing of specialised data by sports bodies for use in the betting industry, as examples of the “important symbiotic relationship” between the two sectors.

At the same time, the report argues against the introduction of sports betting rights and the imposition of restrictions on the types of bets that bookmakers can offer.

It states that sports betting rights are not an effective mechanism for financial distribution to sport and do not improve integrity, while describing calls for a restriction or prohibition on certain types of bets such as in-play as not being based on any firm evidence.

Commenting on the report, RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood said: “Unfortunately the sports betting integrity debate is too often driven by either the ill informed or those looking to gain a commercial advantage. I very much hope that this report will go a long way towards educating opinion formers of the facts of the situation, strengthening their knowledge base and ultimately providing a foundation for progress.”

That sentiment was echoed by Khalid Ali, chief executive of sports integrity body ESSA, who said that the report corroborates much of what the regulated betting sector has been advancing for over a decade.

“Attacks on the integrity of sport are principally directed by organized criminal groups seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities of sports’ own participants often from poor governance,” said Ali. “Regulated betting operates are actually the potential victims of such fraud, immediately questioning the rationale behind the ‘sports right’ approach, which has been widely criticised in a recent report for the European Commission as being inefficient and having numerous practical and operational flaws, along with a number of legal obstacles within the EU.”

Representatives from around 50 countries are expected to sign up to the match-fixing convention this Thursday at a meeting in Switzerland.

The match-fixing convention, agreed by the member states of the Council of Europe in July, calls on governments to adopt measures to prevent conflicts of interest between sports betting operators and sports organisations, to encourage sports betting regulatory authorities to fight against fraud - if necessary by limiting the supply of sports bets or suspending the taking of bets - and to fight against illegal sports betting by restricting access and blocking financial flows to and from customers.