All of the panellists in the Betting Integrity Betmarkets Session at ICE 2016 agreed that the only way the current situation will improve is if the Gambling Commission, sports governing bodies, betting operators and law enforcement align with each other and work collaboratively in the fight against match fixing.
Betting integrity and match fixing at the highest level of sport has been highly scrutinised of late, with a Hong Kong cricketer charged by the Anti-Corruption Code and Mohammad Amir returning to the Pakistan cricket team after serving a prison sentence for spot fixing.
There was also alarming breaking news ahead of the Australian Open Tennis, as secret files exposing evidence of widespread suspected match-fixing, including at Wimbledon were leaked online. In fact, it was confirmed that over the last decade, 16 players ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the TIU over suspicions they have thrown matches.
It seems this recent spate of high profile match fixing cases has left Kristof Szucs feeling negative about the situation, as he predicted that it will get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. However, this was countered by Eric Konings who, whilst acknowledging the current media scrutiny will flag up more high profile cases of fixing, suggested that this does not mean the overall problem is worsening.
The panel, moderated by Mike O’Kane, also touched on the Council of Europe’s convention on the manipulation of sports competitions. And despite offering support for a European policy with stronger regulation, they advised against accepting this as a complete fix, citing the time taken to establish the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the problems it continues to face across high profile sporting events.
Finally, the panel conceded that suppressing match fixing in a given sport will likely cause the problem to resurface in another, as fixers try to get ahead of the regulators. In fact, the more time we spend investigating this, the more corruption we are likely to uncover. But, they are confident that so long as we learn from each new case and apply strong governance throughout, we can shape a sporting world with the highest betting integrity possible.
Full Session Panel:
- Nick Tofiluk (Gambling Commission, Executive Director – Regulatory Operations)
- Thierry Pujol (FDJ, Director of Sport Integrity, Special Advisor to the President)
- Sarah Lacarrière (Global Lottery Monitoring System, General Secretary)
- Kristof Szucs (Gaming and Sport Integrity, Consultant)
- Eric Konings (Unibet, Sports Betting Integrity Officer)
- Matthew Drew (Perform Group, Director of Integrity and Security)
- Mike O’Kane (Ladbrokes, Chairman, ESSA, Business Director)