Integrity in sports betting

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

Two of the licensing objectives set out in the Gambling Act 2005 (2005 Act) are to ensure "that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way" and to prevent "gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime". The Gambling Commission has introduced measures with a view to ensuring that betting on sports meets these objectives and is seeking to encourage betting operators to share information about suspect betting patterns with sports governing bodies.

The Commission's initial approach to this issue was to include a licence condition for betting operators which states that:

"Licensees who accept bets, or facilitate the making or acceptance of bets between others, on the outcome of horse races or other sporting events governed by one of the [15] sports governing bodies [set out in the 2005 Act] must also provide the relevant sport governing body with any information the licensee suspects may: lead the Gambling Commission to consider making an order to void a bet; or relate to a breach of a rule applied by that sport governing body".

Thus, if betting operators fail to provide such information, they put their operating licences at risk.

On 4 October 2007, the Gambling Commission published a policy position paper summarising its current thinking on the matter following its issues paper on integrity in sports betting that was published in May 2007. The Gambling Commission stated that it understands the importance of upholding integrity to both sports governing bodies and the betting industry, but that "the evidence points to the number of incidents giving cause for concern about integrity in sports betting being low".

The Gambling Commission further stated that there was no evidence to suggest that either limiting the types of bets offered by British operators or requiring them to pay a levy to sports governing bodies would improve the level of integrity and may even result in some sports betting operators relocating offshore.

In conclusion, it seems that, for the moment at least the Gambling Commission will keep the situation under review. However, it has called on sports governing bodies and the betting industry to: "improve their understanding of how each other's industry operates and to share information relevant to integrity in sports betting; share knowledge and best practice on sports betting integrity; and, continue to provide evidence of incidents to the Gambling Commission that may impact on integrity in sports betting".