Giancarlo Sergi: Education is a key factor in combating match-fixing

The most effective way to combat match fixing is to ensure that players are educated on the subject matter and effective prevention measures are in place, according to Giancarlo Sergi, General Secretary, Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS).

Taking part in a panel entitled ‘Assessing the impact of the Tennis review of integrity’ on day two of Betting on Sports Europe – Digital, Sergi highlighted his belief that the best way to eradicate match-fixing in tennis is through enhanced cooperation between regulatory bodies and preventative methods such as education programmes. 

He explained: “I think there is never enough cooperation. More importantly education and prevention is also very very important. We tend to sanction a lot and this is normal. We do work a lot with Europol and Interpol, but in my humble opinion, sanctioning is the end of the process. 

“From a sports perspective, sanctioning also means failure at the end of the day. It’s a weakness and what we need to do is invest in the beginning of the process by educating the players. For me the future of fighting against match fixing is really education and prevention.”

During the sporting ‘hiatus’ this summer, the Tennis Integrity Unit established an education programme with over 1500 players and other covered persons to educate them on how to combat match-fixing. 

Fellow panelist Jonathan Gray, CEO of TIU, reinforced Sergi’s beliefs, adding: “Prevention is better than curing.

“Tennis has invested significantly in the education programme both in terms of the online mandatory training that all cover persons now must complete in order to be part of a professional game, through to my education and training team who regularly visit large tournaments and brief players and other persons, as well as doing a lot of work online training.”

He also believes that some of the issues in preventing match-fixing lie ‘around the structure of the sport and how money flows in the sport and obviously those issues are somewhat delayed due to COVID at the moment but on the agenda’.

The conversation swiftly moved on to the monitoring of tennis integrity throughout the pandemic. Gray believed that the sport will face new challenges as organised crime groups become more sophisticated. 

He noted: “I would say the other challenge for us is as sports fixing becomes more subtle, whether our data is able to detect sport fixing at its most subtle. I think that’s something I am very interested in really understanding – how we can look at performance related data, betting related data, correlation of the two and just stay ahead of the game on this. 

“I think people know from the recent Europol Report that organised crime has gained some influence in live sport – they’re sophisticated. We’ve got a challenge to keep ahead of that and I think data will play a key role.”

This was the perfect cue for David Lampitt, Managing Director of Sports Partnerships at Sportradar to weigh in: “One of the things we’ve pioneered at Sportradar is the use of account level information and access to account level information that we have through our own systems and managed trading services. 

“This gives us visibility on those more specific forms of fixing and I agree with Johnny that this is certainly something we’ve seen an increase in terms of that type of fixing, as opposed to historically more fixing on match related or set related outcomes. 

“I think all of those challenges are present.  I think we’ve got to harness technology and work out what we have to do. I think the TIU or the TIA has to do the same.

“The monitoring that we have done since 2018 with the ITF has seen a 48% decrease in suspicious betting alerts across ITF tennis. I’m not saying that was purely because of the work we did on monitoring. I think there were a number of factors in there, but it’s certainly one of those key areas. 

“I think the other area that we have again pioneered in tennis and now bringing to other sports is a targeted risk-based approach to the way in which data and events are offered to the betting markets.

“We need to actually look at the risk factors that determine an individual’s location, whatever those factors may be in identifying key risk areas and then adjust your offer accordingly. That’s something that I said we’ve been doing for the last year and a half and we’ve seen the benefits of that. 

“We’ve seen the benefits in identifying problems targeting and removing those problems from the sport, which I think again is to everyone’s benefit and I would love to see that adopted on a wider base for sure. Not only in tennis but in other sports.”

You can watch the full panel session here

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