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Sports Betting Integrity Action Plan published at a time of late goals and pies!

The Sports Betting Integrity Forum has today published the 2017 addition of the Sport and Sports Betting Integrity Action plan which follows on from the 2016 addition. It is reported that “this new and updated Sports Betting Integrity action plan builds on that progress, continuing the collaborative approach across sport, betting operators, law enforcement and government, protects against and deter sports betting related corruption. It has also been amended to include relevant updates and new priorities”.

The Sports Betting Integrity Forum was set up in 2012 to develop an approach which would protect sports betting against corruption and the forum includes representatives from governing bodies, operators, trade associations, law enforcement and gambling regulations. It was originally called the Tripartite Forum. It’s main focus is prevention,  disruption and deterring and was initially concerned about match fixing and the challenge posed for sports betting operators. An earlier project commissioned by the Remote Gambling Association and its partners looked into the prevalence of corruption in international sport and analysed a  database of 2089 cases of corruption which included match fixing both betting and non-betting related, the misuse of inside information and doping. The research identified key trends in the data.

A detailed document had been prepared prior to the Rugby World Club in 2015 outlining the betting integrity support arrangements that were in place which also provided learning points for future events.

There have of course been some high profile incidents relating to betting scandals in sport and the industry has had to react quickly to both understand and deal with all types of corruption. Wikipedia now has a page which lists the Cricketers who are banned for corruption with the major corruption case involving  the Pakistan cricket spot-fixing scandal of 2010. The international cricket Council banned 3 players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and Butt and Asif were found guilty by a London Court on criminal charges relating to spot-fixing. In February 1999, a Malaysian based betting syndicate was caught attempting to install a remote control device to sabotage the floodlights at a Premier League match, in 2004 Portuguese Police launched an operation and named several Portuguese club presidents and football personalities suspected of match fixing and in June 2004 in South Africa, 33 people were arrested on Match fixing charges. There was a Bundesliga scandal in 2005 and other scandals in Brazil, Germany, Spain, Finland and Lebanon have been widely reported. In December 2013, 6 people in Britain were arrested for allegedly fixing football games.

It is a difficult area to regulate and control. An extra corner, a late goal or a certain number of throw Ins can all now lead to significant amounts of money being won by organised syndicates given the vast array of products and competing products that are now in the sports betting market place. On Tuesday night the Manchester City forward Leroy Sane scored a late goal in the Champions League match against Monaco which meant a fan  missed out on €34,000 having placed a bet on the results of the Manchester City and Monaco match and the Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen match.

The dangers of betting operators offering novelty bets was highlighted on Monday night in the Arsenal against Sutton United match when Sutton United reserve goal keeper, Wayne Shaw ate a pie/pasty whilst in the dugout as the FA Cup match was taking place. Not surprisingly the stunt was captured by the BBC who were at the match and initially the pie eating was greeted with much humour. However, it transpired that a betting operator had offered a bet to customers ( odds of 8-1)  that Wayne Shaw would eat a pie during the match and a number of people (unknown) had placed bets on this happening. Wayne Shaw  resigned from Sutton United the following day and the FA are now investigating to see whether or not there is a breach of any FA rules relating to betting. The Gambling Commission is also looking into any regularity in the betting market having previously warned operators in June last year about the integrity of taking bets on novelty markets. Sun bets who sponsor Sutton tweeted that it had paid out a 5 figure sum on the bet whilst Shaw admitted he was told of the betting promotion before the game although maintaining that the eating of the pie/pasty was just a bit of fun. “I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it, all the subs were on and we were 2-0 down…it was just a bit of banter for them”.

A worldwide ban on betting in football was introduced in 2014 and covers everyone involved in the game and prevents participants covered by the ban from betting, either directly or indirectly on any football match or competition including the passing of “inside information”.

No doubt the Sports Betting Integrity Forum will hope that the 2017 addition of the sport and sports betting integrity action plan will continue to see the industry make progress in working with law enforcement and government agencies to prevent and deter sports related corruption whether it relates to novelty bets or otherwise.