Sports Bodies Lobby for a New Levy

United Kingdom

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

The Sports Rights Owners Coalition (SROC) is a group of national and international sports bodies which lobbies in relation to intellectual property rights and other issues affecting sport.

One area where SROC has been lobbying the European Commission and various national governments is in relation to the relationship between gambling and sport. In particular, they have argued that gambling on sport poses a threat to integrity in that it creates an incentive for events to be fixed for the benefit of gamblers. SROC's view is that this integrity threat should be addressed by bookmakers and other gambling operators requiring a licence (either from a regulatory body or from the relevant sport's governing body) in order to be able to take bets on a sport. The licence would contain conditions regarding information sharing regarding, for example, suspicious betting patterns and would also require a fee to be paid. This fee would be applied by the sport in funding measures to prevent the integrity of its events being compromised by gambling.

However, the bookmakers' view is that "integrity" is being used by sports as a pretext for extracting additional revenue from bookmakers following the failure of horseracing and football, in particular, to commercialise their fixture lists.

As far as the UK is concerned, given the Government's oft-stated desire to remove itself from its statutory involvement in horseracing and its consistent refusal to introduce statutory funding for greyhound racing, (the other sport which, along with horseracing, has the closest relationship with gambling), it is difficult to envisage any new statutory licensing and/or funding system being introduced and SROC may find that the European Commission is a more fertile area to cultivate.