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Britain’s sports integrity strategy outlined in 2018 Action Plan

The Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF) has published its Sport and Sports Betting Integrity Action Plan 2018 (SBI Action Plan), outlining Britain’s ongoing approach to the integrity of sport and sports betting.

Stating that “we do not believe that we have an endemic problem in Britain,” the necessity to eradicate complacency and raise awareness and education in the fields of manipulation and match-fixing has been highlighted.

The SBIF, compromising senior representatives of key partners, and the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU), a unit within the Gambling Commission which deals with reports of betting-related corruption, will continue to function as Britain’s national platform, with the Gambling Commission acting as the UK’s lead agency.

Working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the lead government department for the SBI Action Plan, as well as relevant national and international bodies and law enforcement, the commission will ensure the SBI Action Plan is coordinated effectively, to ensure protection against sports betting related corruption.

One key area of focus within the latest published report is the need for sports, and licensed sports betting stakeholders, to understand their respective roles and ensure appropriate actions are undertaken.

Addressing the role of Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs) and Player Associations working under the Sports Betting Group, encapsulating a range of representatives across a number of sports, the SBIF emphasises the role of leadership and education as preventative tools.

Highlighting the need to develop an understanding of the threats to the integrity, and effective risk management, it was also noted that sports should work together in order to share best practises related to the prevention of the key issues.

Discussing the role of education amongst SGBs, Player Associations and sports bodies, several steps were highlighted which could form a key part in tackling threats to integrity.

These included the development and delivery of educational programmes, the role of sports leaders and elite athletes as role models in their sports and ensuring clear frameworks to enable sanctions are established in codes of conduct, betting roles and contractual provisions, while ensuring participants are aware of the responsibilities and implications of a breach.

In addition processes for reporting, information gathering, exchange and investigation should be clear, while policies should be established enabling relevant parties to identify and respond to match-fixing and corruption issues

Furthermore, commercial arrangements with gambling operators need to be free of conflicts of interest with regards to the prevention and deterrence of sports betting corruption, while stakeholders will ensure arrangements only exist with appropraite licensed operators, who have adequate monitoring and reporting mechanisms of suspicious betting in place.    

Obligations of licensed sports betting operators also formed a key point of focus, with an action plan set out to ensure effective risk management is in place alongside its commitments under the Gambling Act 2005, to ensure that sports betting is not associated with or used to support crime.

As well as specific rules and provisions outlined in terms and conditions, the awareness of match-fixing and misuse of insider information should be raised with employees, as well as appropraite sanctions of inappropriate actions.

In addition, it was also stressed that licensed operators should “provide information on irregular betting and/or suspicious sports events quickly to the Gambling Commission’s SBIU, and where possible provide the relevant SGBs with sufficient information to conduct an effective investigation.”  

A 2018 action plan also contains ongoing objectives throughout the year, which encompass strategies for small and medium operators, implementation of a communications plan to publicise the work of the SBIF,  the hosting of workshops to promote good practice and promote sharing of knowledge and information across stakeholder groups, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implementation monitoring.

A refresh of the SBI Action Plan is set to follow later this year, after Britain has signed the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (known as the Macolin Convention).

Article 13 of the Convention sets out what is expected from signatories in terms of establishing a national platform, with the key operating principles of a national platform being:

  • Coordinate the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions;
  • Identify and coordinate the actions of key partners
  • Collect, assess and exchange information to support the collective and individual partner’s efforts.