ESSA (European Sport Security Association) sports betting integrity report for the first quarter of 2016
We reproduce below this Report and the Articles that accompany it issued on 15 April, 2016: Editorial Last year proved to be a difficult period for the sports sector, with a number of scandals and allegations of corruption coming to light. This has presented a test to the previously unchallenged principles of the specificity and autonomy of sport. The reasons for this situation can be varied, but fundamentally stem from the issue of governance. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, whilst recent publicity in this area has been negative, there are examples of good governance in sport. ESSA works with many within the sector who are examples of good governance and integrity. Sport, in general, continues to have clear societal and health benefits and to play a positive part in our lives. However, its administrators need to stand up and be counted and accept that running sport like a private members club is not the future format that will deliver better governance. In what is a self-regulating sector, there will always be the possibility of wide variations in the application of governance practices, both at national and international levels. With the adverse impact of poor governance now widely accepted as a key cause of many of the troubles facing sport, it is right that the sector is being pressured by governments to urgently address this issue. It is, therefore, worth exploring some of the potential solutions to this issue in a broad sense, which in turn play an important part in tackling associated matters such as match manipulation, the infiltration of criminals and wider unethical practices in sport. Firstly, ensuring democratic procedures is the bedrock of any good governance practices, with the implementation of effective regulations and rules paramount. It is a principle produced and upheld as a direct result of an organizational structure that truly represents all of its stakeholders and where elected administrators and boards have fixed terms in office, and are held personally accountable for their actions. Accountability is a fundamental requirement. Only with accountability can poor sports governance, fiscal mismanagement or even corruption be addressed. On event/participant integrity, that means that sports need to enact a zero tolerance approach, achieved through the establishment of ethics/integrity units with effective investigatory powers and visible disciplinary procedures. Finally, greater transparency is necessary. Transparency improves integrity and that in turn limits opportunities for corruption. That is only achieved, however, if sports governing bodies coordinate their actions and exchange information with all key stakeholders. In the area of match-fixing, that includes: gambling regulatory bodies, law enforcement and betting operators. In recent years, we have seen such principles increasingly promoted by policymakers, most notably on integrity through the Council of Europe’s Convention, IOC’s betting integrity recommendations and the UK Integrity Action Plan. Effective sports governance is a key aspect of these initiatives. Such governance issues and integrity solutions are examined further in the two articles in this Report, concerning the Council of Europe-led and European Commission funded “Keep Crime out of Sport” project, and the Sports Integrity Initiative’s reflections on these issues from its perspective as an independent media body focused on integrity. I thank them both for their valuable input. Mike O’Kane ESSA Chairman ESSA’s integrity figures for Q1 2016 In the first quarter of 2016 ESSA and its members reported 11 cases of suspicious betting patterns to the relevant sporting and regulatory authorities for further investigation. That involved nine cases identified in tennis and one each in football and basketball. From a geographical perspective, there were five cases in Asia, three in Europe, two in Africa and one in South America. A betting pattern is deemed unusual or suspicious when it involves unexpected activity with atypical bet sizes or volumes that continue - even after significant price corrections have been made in order to deter such activity in the market. A betting pattern is only confirmed as suspicious after ESSA has made detailed enquiries with all of its members to eliminate any prospect that the unusual patterns could be for legitimate reasons, such as pricing the market incorrectly. ESSA continues to play a key role as the regulated betting sector’s representative body at national and international match-fixing policy forums and holds positions on working groups at the European Commission, Council of Europe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It represents many of the world’s biggest regulated sports betting operators, serving over 40 million consumers in the EU alone, and is continually reassessing and improving its alert and reporting systems. ESSA’s members work together using risk assessment and security protocols to identify suspicious betting patterns and have access to an unrivalled body of data which it provides to sporting bodies and regulatory authorities. That includes essential transactional data on who is betting on what, where and when. Every year, our members invest over €50m in compliance and internal security systems to combat fraud, as well as funding other initiatives such as player education programmes. How the ESSA system works The ESSA alert system primarily works on the input provided by its members, notably alerts created by members relating to suspicious transactions detected by their own internal control systems. If such an alert is issued, which occurs through ESSA’s alert platform, members are required to respond quickly confirming whether or not similar trends have been seen elsewhere in their markets. Where evidence emerges that there may be potentially fraudulent activity taking place, e.g. because several members have confirmed an irregular betting pattern, ESSA will:
- report that information under the applicable Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the relevant sports governing body; and
- advise the member(s) concerned to make a report to their own national regulatory authority.