TODAY Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, announced the establishment of an expert panel on sports betting.
The panel will be chaired by Rick Parry, Chief Executive of Liverpool Football Club. Betfair Managing Director, Mark Davies, will be one of the panel members. Other people on the panel include representatives from the betting industry, the police, players, fans, sports governing bodies, the legal profession and the Gambling Commission.
The panel will examine the scale of the current risk to sports' integrity through betting corruption, including how suspicious betting patterns are identified and assessed, in markets within and outside the UK.
The panel will report back to the Minster within six months with a clear set of recommendations to help uphold integrity in sports and associated betting.
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DCMS Press Release: (http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/media_releases/6238.aspx)
Betfair's position on Integrity in Sport:
The ability to corrupt. The only people who can corrupt the outcome of a match are the participants in it – you have to be either playing or officiating. It is sport's responsibility to invest in educating players and adjudicators to ensure that they are not tempted to involve themselves in any corrupt activity by understanding what the risks and penalties are. The responsibility for upholding integrity in sport ultimately rests with sport itself.
The cause of corruption. Corruption in sport is related to the illegal betting market, not the legal transparent market. Where betting takes place transparently, it presents no problems. Where it happens 'below the line', or cannot be tracked, it can cause huge problems for sport.
The failure of prohibition. It is a proven fact that any statutory prohibition on betting activity will never eradicate sports betting. If the legal betting market ceased to exist, the situation regarding sporting corruption would inevitably get worse. All betting activity would be forced to migrate to the black markets, where there would be no hope of detecting corrupt activity.
The 'polluter must pay'. It would be wrong to impose a statutory Levy on the betting industry to pay for policing the corruption it does not cause and is not responsible for. The call for a Levy on betting companies to pay for integrity services would be akin to asking pharmaceutical companies to pay for drug-testing of sportsmen and athletes.
The role of transparency. The only means by which corruption-free sport can be achieved is if we secure a completely transparent global betting market. The growth in the transparency of betting, in which Betfair has played a major part, has brought to light problems which already existed within sports.
The impact of transparency. An improvement in the ability to detect and report instances of corruption is often confused with an increased frequency of corrupt activity in sport. Worse still, some within sport place the blame for this 'increase' in corruption squarely with the bookmaking industry, and frequently with Betfair.
The commitment to sharing. The information-sharing Memoranda of Understanding and increased transparency, pioneered by Betfair, provide sports regulators with the best available means of identifying any fraudulent betting on their sports. If every bet placed in the world were visible, there would be no issue. Betfair is the most transparent wagering system in the world.
The reality of sport's co-dependence with gambling. The call for a Levy is no doubt cited in sports' claim that they are entitled to a share of gambling companies' profits. However, there exist in the UK hundreds of co-dependent industries with no financial link whatsoever. For example, no one expects lobbyists to pay the House of Commons for making work for them – in fact, the very opposite is true! Indeed, should betting companies' themselves be asking tipsters for a proportion of the income?
The role of Betfair. Betfair's name has only ever been associated with corruption in so far as it works actively, diligently and successfully to identify and report to sports governing bodies suspect betting activity. Having the capacity and resolve to report indicators of corruption in no way makes Betfair responsible for threats to sporting integrity.
About Betfair: (www.betfair.com)
Betfair is the world's biggest online betting community and pioneered the first successful betting exchange in 2000. Driven by cutting-edge technology, Betfair enables customers to choose their own odds and bet even after the event has started. The company now processes over six million transactions a day from its two million registered customers around the world. In addition to sports betting, Betfair offers a portfolio of innovative products including casino, exchange games and poker.
Betfair has twice been named the UK's 'Company of the Year' by the Confederation of British Industry and remains one of the only betting companies to win a Queen's Award for Enterprise, being recognised for Innovation in 2003 and most recently for International Trade in 2008.
Betfair currently employs over 1,500 people, principally in London, Malta and Tasmania. The company is a licensed betting operator in the UK, and holds licenses in Australia, Germany, Austria, Italy and Malta.
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