In the Name of Integrity

26 April 2006

An Integrity in Sports Betting Conference took place in Twickenham, London last Wednesday and was attended by representatives of British government, sports bodies and the betting industry. All were reportedly in agreement that they should work together to eradicate whatever amount of cheating may exist in their sports, and to that end, a 10-point code of practice was introduced.

Drafted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in partnership with the Jockey Club and the Football Association, the code of practice already has the support of nine sporting organizations: the Football Association, Rugby Football Union, England and Wales Cricket Board, Horserace Regulatory Authority, National Greyhound Racing Club, Motor Sports Association, World Snooker, Darts Regulatory Authority and British Darts Organization.

Among other things, the code dictates that sports authorities should include provisions in their rules and regulations governing the behavior of their participants in relation to betting, and that sports authorities should cooperate with relevant statutory authorities in the context of sports betting and proactively share information with the statutory authorities if they ever receive knowledge of corrupt practices. The code also advises that the sports authorities nominate a person or department to assume the responsibility of dealing with betting-related issues.

"Sports betting has changed dramatically in recent years," Sports Minister Richard Caborn said. "Advances in technology and increasing popularity mean there are now more ways to place a bet than ever before. Internet and phone accounts now enable more people to place a bet at any time from any place, even after the sporting events have started.

"But we can't let a few unscrupulous cheat drag the good name of sport through the mud. That's why I'm pleased that from football to snooker sport now recognizes the importance of working with betting operators and the authorities to crack down on betting cheats.

"This code of practice commits governing bodies to creating clear rules governing their participants and better sharing of information. This is essential to stop cheats prospering."

The DCMS says the code will bring unprecedented levels of cooperation between government authorities, sports organizations and the betting industry in the lead-up to the new gambling regime that will take effect under the Gambling Act 2005 in September 2007.

"We live in a climate where there's been a cultural shift, with betting having become an acceptable leisure pastime with betting turnover on sports at an all-time high," said conference chair Paul Scotney, chairman of the Horseracing Regulatory Authority. "However, people will only bet on these sporting events if they can be confident in the integrity of the outcome. Where there's money to be won there will always be people willing to cheat in order to win it, and obviously this issue has been one the horseracing industry has been dealing with virtually since it began.

"As the regulator of horseracing, we've made great strides in our fight against corrupt betting related practices, particularly over the last two years, and I'm looking forward to sharing this expertise with the other sports regulators."

Last week's conference was hosted by the Rugby Football Union in Twickenham and sponsored by the Tote and Betfair.

Match-fixing allegations and other issues involving betting among soccer players have sprung up many countries throughout the world in recent weeks, including Austria, Vietnam, Ireland, Belgium and Germany. There has even been much media attention in the United Kingdom involving the purported betting habits of striker Wayne Rooney. With the World Cup of soccer set to open a little over a month from now in Germany, FIFA has required every player, official and referee participating in the tournament to sign a pledge stating they will not bet on any games of the tournament.

Click here to view Integrity in Sports Betting: A 10-point Plan.