Integrity at the WLA and EL Sports Betting Seminar WLA and EL Sports Betting Seminar, Paris, 2-3 November 2023

Integrity at the WLA and EL Sports Betting Seminar

In the rapidly expanding world of sports betting, maintaining integrity is of utmost importance. The recent World Lottery Association and European Lotteries’ Sports Betting Seminar that took place in Paris on November 2-3, had specific sessions dedicated to this crucial topic, inviting various experts from the domain of sports, lotteries and alike to share their insights. One of the key takeaways from the seminar was the role lotteries can play in upholding integrity in sports. Several speakers highlighted this issue and emphasized the need for regulation and legislation, awareness and education, as well as monitoring and intelligence.

Sports organizations upholding integrity: IOC and ITIA

Evangelos Alexandrakis, NOCs Relations at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), provided an update on the activities of the Olympic Movement Unit for the Prevention of Competition Manipulation (OM Unit PMC). A significant portion of the unit's work revolves around raising awareness among athletes, coaches, and entourage about the importance of maintaining sports integrity.

To this end, the OM Unit PMC emphasizes four rules for sportspersons. Firstly, it is essential that athletes never place bets on their own sport or any events in the Olympic Games. This rule is put in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity of the competition.

Secondly, sportspeople are urged to never manipulate the outcome of a competition. They should always strive to do their best and ensure the results are a true reflection of their competitive abilities. This rule serves to maintain the authenticity of the sport and ensure a level playing field for all competitors.

Thirdly, the sharing of inside information is strictly prohibited. Non-public information pertaining to a sport, including strategies, training routines, injury updates, and more, should remain private. This rule is designed to prevent the misuse of confidential information for illicit betting or other unfair advantages.

Lastly, athletes and other sports professionals are always encouraged to report any incidents or attempts to manipulate competitions. This proactive reporting helps the OM Unit PMC to promptly investigate and take appropriate actions to preserve the integrity of sports.

The IOC will make sure that all sports, various disciplines, and every event scheduled to take place at the forthcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be under rigorous scrutiny in the international sports betting market. To ensure the effectiveness of this monitoring, ULIS and the lotteries will be working in close collaboration with the IOC.

Julia Lowis, Legal Counsel (Barrister), International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), shared insightful information on the role of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) to promote, encourage and safeguard the integrity of their professional tennis events worldwide.

The ITIA is entrusted with the crucial task of managing the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP). This program encompasses all the guidelines and regulations pertaining to match fixing and betting issues within the sphere of professional tennis. According to ITIA the number of sanctions dropped from 26 in 2021, to 15 to date, this year.

Julia Lowis presented a comprehensive set of data in her report. This data incorporated a range of statistics, covering alerts and potential matches of suspicion. The alerts involving officials are not included in the general pool of data presented. Instead, these specific alerts are dealt with separately, ensuring a more focused and specialized approach to handling these unique cases. Furthermore, it was specified that a Betting Integrity Analyst is responsible for the initial review and triaging of all betting information received. This professional acts as a gatekeeper in the process, ensuring that each piece of information is thoroughly analyzed and correctly categorized before being passed along for further investigation or action.

Kambi: integrity from a betting supplier perspective

Sarah Roberson and Paul Finnigen, from Kambi, provided valuable insights into the latest trends in sports integrity and data rights. Kambi, being a supplier for sports betting operators, is in a good position to identify the needs of the industry in terms of integrity services. Kambi has partnerships with betting regulators, sport integrity bodies, international betting associations and data suppliers.

Regarding data suppliers, Kambi highlighted the constant increase in the cost of data due to strong competition between suppliers to win rights and an evolving set of rights that become a must have.

The importance of international collaboration

A lively panel discussion moderated by ULIS President Gilles Maillet brought together experts from various sectors to talk about how to protect the integrity of sports competitions. Panelist included Nicolas Saydé from the Council of Europe, Severin Moritzer from Play Fair Code, Corentin Segalen from the French National Platform, and Evangelos Alexandrakis from the IOC.

Moderated by Gilles Maillet, President of the United Lotteries for Integrity in Sports (ULIS), the panel emphasized the importance of international collaboration in maintaining the integrity of sports, particularly in the context of sports betting. They discussed how lotteries could play a pivotal role in this process.

Segalen explained the concept of National Platforms and their collaboration with lotteries. Typically, these platforms have a coordinating role composed of members such as regulatory bodies, the police, and sports organization. In the case of Morocco, for example, the national lottery serves as the coordinator. Segalen emphasized the need for a diverse team of stakeholders to effectively tackle sports manipulation, including sports event organizers, the police, and regulatory authorities responsible for monitoring betting activities.

Nicolas Sayde, Secretary of the Macolin Convention, highlighted several initiatives undertaken by the Council of Europe to safeguard sports integrity. These initiatives include the European Sports Charter Article 8, which encompasses three dimensions: personal competition, organizational integrity, and broader ethical considerations. The Council of Europe also works on projects promoting gender equality, addressing migration issues, and ensuring safe sports environments for children. Additionally, Sayde mentioned a recent declaration on sport integrity adopted by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. This declaration urges member states and sport organizations to promote transparency, accountability, democracy, and ethical behavior in sports, including the establishment of robust governance systems, conflict-of-interest policies, whistle-blower protection mechanisms, and effective measures against corruption, manipulation of competitions, violence, and other human rights infringements.

Evangelos Alexandrakis, NOCs Relations Manager at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), emphasized the importance of cooperation and information sharing in the fight against sports manipulation. However, he also emphasized that sports organizations must comply with The Macolin Convention and have appropriate rules in place. Alexandrakis acknowledged that the strength of ULIS lies in its network and the crucial sharing of information within lottery members across different jurisdictions. He encouraged all lotteries that are not yet members of ULIS to seriously consider joining the organization.

Severin Moritzer, CEO of Play Fair Code in Austria, discussed the prevention work carried out by his organization. Play Fair Code serves as a single point of contact, advice, and reporting facility for match-fixing in Austria. The initiative was established in collaboration with the Austrian Ministry of Sports, the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB), and the Austrian Professional Football League (ÖFBL).

The Macolin Convention's Relevance

Another main topic of the panel discussion was the relevance of the Macolin Convention as the only international legal instrument dealing with competition manipulation. All panelists agreed on the importance of enforcing this Convention to maintain the integrity of sports. Lotteries can and should have the important role of encouraging their governments to sign and ratify the convention.

To conclude:

  • The Sports Betting Seminar in Paris was a significant step towards preserving the integrity of sports in the face of an expanding betting market. The insightful presentations and constructive discussions reiterated the importance of regulation, education, and monitoring in safeguarding fair play.
  • The seminar underscored the critical role that lotteries can play in maintaining the integrity of sports. By ensuring that betting practices are transparent and monitored, lotteries can play a crucial part in safeguarding sports competitions.
  • Finally, the importance of international collaboration and enforceable legal instruments like The Macolin Convention came to the forefront. By working together, we can work towards ensuring the integrity of sports remains untarnished, no matter how large the betting market grows.