IBIA – MGA must adopt coherent approach on sports betting customer disputes  

The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) has published its official response to the Malta Gaming Authority’s (MGA) consultation on ‘suspicious betting reporting requirements and further integrity matters’. 

The IBIA underlined that it has followed MGA legislative developments closely since the regulatory body launched its ‘Prevention of Corruption in Sport Act in  2018.

Furthermore, the IBIA has supported the MGA in developing its ‘Sports Integrity Unit’ which became operational in 2019, stating: “We have had a positive relationship with the MGA for some years and supports the authority’s allocation of resources to, and focus on, sports betting integrity provisions.”

Strengthening its integrity oversight, the MGA will implement its new ‘Section 43’ order sanctioned under its ‘Gaming Authorisations and Compliance Directive’.   

Section 43 will require all B2C sports betting licensees to directly inform the MGA of any circumstances or instances of suspicious betting.

Further licensee demands will require sportsbook operators to report all circumstances of voided bets as a result of ‘suspicion of manipulation’ with operators providing supporting documentation informing the MGA of their judgement and actions.

As yet the MGA has not enforced Section 43, which forms part of the regulator’s new compliance functions sanctioned in August 2019, as the MGA seeks wider stakeholder input on the sports integrity directive.

The IBIA has praised the MGA decision to conduct a further consultation on its draft suspicious betting protocols as an ‘example of good practice’.

In its response, the IBIA highlighted three critical areas that the MGA must provide clarity for operators and stakeholders in relation to  ‘customer disputes relating to suspicious betting’,  ‘operator engagements with a global monitoring bodies’ and ‘betting integrity policy engagement with operators’.

On customer disputes, the IBIA advised the MGA to adopt a suitable ‘dispute resolution process to ensure consistency of approach’.

The integrity body pointed to recognised dispute resolution providers IBAS and eCOGRA, as institutions that have delivered a structured and coherent mechanism for dealing with customer disputes related to sports wagering.  

Working with its members and arbitration bodies, the IBIA stated that it has developed standard frameworks for dealing with customer disputes and launching investigations that the MGA should consider.

On operator engagement, the IBIA praised the MGA for recognising that operators play a fundamental role in integrity monitoring so that data can be relayed to relevant authorities.

The MGA is advised to utilise data sharing to its ‘best effect’, with betting alerts focused on customer account transactions, over static market odds monitoring.   

The IBIA underlined that effective data transfer on customer activity will help authorities gain vital evidence with regards to identifying criminal locations, spotting disproportionate wagering volumes, analysing behaviours and finding out which sports have been targeted.

Highlighting the threat of international gangs targeting sports betting, the MGA is urged to adopt the IBIA’s ‘customer-based international alert system’.

On the developing betting integrity policy, IBIA advises the MGA to develop a ‘regulator forum’ for open engagement with its licensed operators.  

The Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner is branded as a key example of a regulatory body working with operators to properly structure and organise its information-sharing alert systems, helping improve its sports integrity technical systems and documenting procedures.   

“Given that suspicious betting and the manipulation of sporting events is a global issue, IBIA hopes that the MGA will also give due consideration to what role this association might play in any future MGA initiatives in this area,” the IBIA stated concluding its response. 

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