SBC Digital Summit: Stamping out corruption as lesser leagues take centre stage

Sports betting integrity has become even more prominent as smaller leagues, such as the Belarusian Premier League, receive high scale attention due to the limitation of live-sports. 

However, in order to prevent these small scale tournaments from being susceptible to match fixing Andrew Ashenden, Chief Commercial Officer at Stats Perform, has called for every sector in the industry to work together to stamp down on this potential issue.

Speaking on SBC Digital Summit’sCOVID-19: Implications for sporting integrity’ panel, he stated: “We firmly believe that data providers have an integral role to play in the sporting integrity ecosystem at all times. We have a collective responsibility and duty to adhere to the higher standards of data quality and integrity. 

“Vital to all of this is to look at the whole piece and an ecosystem and as a collaboration between all bodies who have a collective interest in stamping this kind of thing (corruption) out of the sporting world.”

Rupert Bolingbroke, Head of Trading, HKJC also discussed how the traditional sports betting model has ‘blown up’ due to a higher priority being placed on lesser leagues. He emphasised that as smaller markets are shifted to centre stage, it enables more match fixing possibilities.

“There is normally a symbiosis between the level of wagers in a particular competition and the turnover of that competition,” he explained. “The Premier League is the biggest in the world and a junior kids game intakes virtually no money. 

“The whole model has been blown up so that the only content you have only got is for example the Belarusian League which has been sold to just about everybody. That puts the entire wagers to turnover of the event out of sync which means that the fixers can afford to place large bets and pay small fees to get the match fixed. I’m not saying specifically that anything has gone wrong over there but that is the problem that has now been created.”

The panel also went on to discuss how COVID-19 could impact sports betting integrity post-virus with Matt Fowler, Director of Integrity at IBIA, highlighting that due to the financial uncertainty certain players will have faced, it could lead to more suspicious activities. 

He explained: “For fixing to occur there’s a number of different factors that will take place and if you have got players perhaps not being paid or being paid late you can see how they are maybe more susceptible to corrupt approaches.”

Gilles Maillet, Director of Sport Integrity at FDJ, agreed by saying: “It is very clear that many athletes, many clubs in many sports in many countries are going to be financially weakened and they have been fragilized. This is going to increase the risk of manipulation of competitions in the very near future starting by the end of this year.

“It will push all of us to be more effective in our monitoring but also more cooperative than ever with the sporting organisations and law enforcement authorities.”

The panel, which also discussed a variety of topics such as the risk for operators to open markets on less-known leagues and how ‘ghost matches’ can be dealt with, was sponsored by Stats Perform and moderated by Gaming Economics’ CEO Lee Richardson.

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020, featuring seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges. It has attracted an estimated 10,000 delegates from around the world. There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available HERE.

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