During the recent ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila, I was invited to take part in a panel on sports betting regulation. Expertly moderated by Harmen Brenninkmeijer of Dynamic Partners, the panel session provided a great platform for a diverse speaker set to rally together to tackle the issue of match fixing.
In summary, the session highlighted the importance of collaboration between regulators, governments and sporting bodies in order to combat the widespread corruption, rigging and illegal betting occurring in sports all over the world, particularly in Asia.
Joining me on the panel were; iGaming consultant Jesper Jensen; Paul Newson, deputy secretary of Liquor, Gaming and Emergency Management for New South Wales and Melvin Byres, founder of Business of Sport Network and owner of MSB concepts, the organisers of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
Each speaker offered a unique set of experiences and anecdotes, from regulation and how it can stamp out match fixing from the outset, to governmental issues and good bookmaking practices.
We all agreed, however, that the scale and scope of the problem means the solution must be bigger, more organised and truly global. It requires cooperation between stakeholders and across international borders. No one regulator, association or government alone can fix it; victory requires a strength in numbers approach.
Newson stated that cooperation was pivotal as there was “no one answer”. He pointed to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act under which there has been no prosecutions since 2001, despite numerous complaints to police. He also highlighted the importance of sufficient memorandum of understandings and agreements to assist domestic regulators in seeking information against offshore operators.
There is a clear need for an international network dedicated to information sharing, and for stakeholders to combine their resources.
Jensen called for good bookmaking practices, with restrictions to limit the size of bets allowed on certain sports and markets. Bookies currently offer odds on every sport going, from college football in China to Premier League cricket in India and some areas of sport where the pay levels are low, such as under 17 football, are far more susceptible to match fixing than a professional golfer taking part in the Masters. Jensen’s solution is to set bet limits low.
The real issue, however, is that sports betting is still very much in the shadows and needs to be brought into the light via regulation. Setting rules and licensing operators has gone a long way to combating match fixing in Europe.
That’s not to say it still doesn’t happen, because it does, but regulatory frameworks are making it much easier to spot rigged games and to bring those acting illegally and committing fraud to account. Again, it comes down to stakeholders working together.
With cooperation between regulators, governments, sporting associations and agencies, I have no doubt that with time, and by working together it will be game set and match for match fixing.