Sports betting integrity organisation ESSA has signed its first agreement with a law enforcement agency, providing police in the Australian state of Victoria with information to target suspicious betting activity and deter betting-related match-fixing.

ESSA has signed a Letter of Agreement with Victoria Police to cover all sporting events during 2018 in Victoria, including the Australian Open tennis championship which began this week.

Police will also receive real-time betting alerts from ESSA on sporting events Australia-wide, should any matches exhibit suspicious betting activity.

These alerts will be sent to Victoria’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, which was created in 2013 to proactively focus on monitoring integrity issues across all sporting codes.

ESSA described the agreement as a first with a law enforcement agency, having previously shared data with sporting federations and gambling regulators.

“Our cooperation arrangement with Victoria Police is an important cog in our global outreach and further highlights the international momentum and partnership working which is increasingly gathering pace between responsible stakeholders,” ESSA secretary general Khalid Ali said. “This agreement sends a clear message of both parties’ desire to address an issue that blights the enjoyment of fans of both sport and betting.”  

Victoria Police detective superintendent Peter Brigham said corruption in sport was one of the fastest growing crimes globally, with this agreement enabling the law enforcement agency to target and investigate these crimes better than ever before.

“We often refer to Melbourne as Australia’s sporting capital, however with that title comes a level of risk in relation to sports betting,” he said. “It is a massive business and in such a lucrative market there is always the potential for corruption.

“A number of ESSA members facilitate betting on Victorian events, however have no presence within Australia. This means that police such as our Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit investigators have limited ability to contact these betting agencies directly when making enquiries into suspicious betting activity on local sporting events.”

Brigham added that the real-time aspect of the alerts gives investigators the ability to act quickly and attend the sporting event in question to immediately commence the investigation.

“The challenge for police is to stay ahead of the game when it comes to this offending and to continually strive to create an environment where it’s difficult for those criminals to exist,” he said. “This agreement with ESSA highlights Victoria Police’s commitment to taking steps to create an environment that will make it difficult for organised crime to infiltrate our shores and our sporting codes.”

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