The UK Gambling Act's effectiveness for world wide sport integrity - Necessity v Proportionality
Published 20 October 2011 By: Kevin Carpenter
Ahead of the highly anticipated 30th Summer Olympic Games in London next year the International Olympic Committee (the ‘IOC’), along with other major sports governing bodies (‘SGBs’) such as FIFA, has made much of the threat of bribery and corruption, particularly through the relationship between gambling and match fixing.
Indeed the IOC’s President Jacques Rogge has made a number of strong statements in recent months including, “The danger is that from illegal betting comes match fixing and you see more attempts to manipulate [sport]. It is as dangerous as doping for the credibility of sport."This major concern for the IOC has been raised with the UK government through a number of meetings, and as a consequence in August 2011 the Department for Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation to amend Schedule 6 (the 'Schedule') of the Gambling Act 2005 (the ‘Act’) titled ‘Exchange of Information: Persons and Bodies’.
Background to the Schedule
The Schedule allows the Gambling Commission (the 'Commission'), the regulator for commercial gambling in Great Britain, to provide information received by it in the exercise of its functions to persons and bodies that are listed on it, for their or the Commission’s functions (section 30(1) of the Act). The body given responsibility by the Commission for collecting and developing intelligence about potential corruption in sport is the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (‘SBIU’). The persons and bodies are split into 3 parts by the Schedule, with Part 3 listing a number of SGBs. Currently Part 3 contains nine SGBs whose jurisdiction for their respective sports lies within the UK, and therefore does not include the IOC. This is problematic as to exchange information with SGBs outside this defined list of nine involves a detailed case-by-case consideration of the extent to which doing so would further the licensing objectives and would not breach existing statutory or legal constraints, especially, but not exclusively, data protection. This process is not conducive to dealing with the dynamic arena of illegal betting which is conducted on a worldwide scale and needs co-operation with global SGBs. As such amendments have been proposed.
It should also be noted that betting operators licensed by the Commission are under an obligation to provide any information that they suspect “relate[s] to a breach of a rule on betting applied by that sports governing body" to their relevant SGB (so long as that SGB is listed on Part 3 of the Schedule).
Proposed amendments to the Schedule and the reasoning behind them
The current list of nine SGBs currently listed under Part 3 of the Schedule includes the SGBs of the majority of the most popular sports that are played across the UK. However, in addition to the IOC, there are some major omissions. The Commission proposes adding seven additional SGBs to Part 3 which it hopes will enhance the assistance the SBIU has given to SGBs with their investigations into sports betting integrity issues over the past year by providing further information in accordance with its powers under the Act. The positives to have come out of this assistance have been disciplinary sanctions against those found guilty of breaching SGBs individual rules on corruption, and an equally important outcome of raising awareness of the need to have some form of monitoring mechanism in place to capture suspicious betting activity. The main criteria used to identify the SGBs proposed to be added to the Schedule are by:
(i) the volume of cases received by the SBIU;
(ii) the volume of betting on individual sports; and
(iii) the international equivalents of major domestic SGBs, not currently represented on the Schedule.
Of most interest, having taken into account the criteria, is the selection of the international equivalent SGBs proposed to be added to the Schedule:
- ICC (International Cricket Council)
- UEFA (Union of European Football Associations)
- FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations)
- ITF (International Tennis Federation)
- WPBSA (World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association)
- IRB (International Rugby Board)
The reasoning given for adding these SGB's to the Schedule is that the Commission “anticipates greater interest in these events and appreciate the desire for organisers to have these safeguards in place to ensure sports betting integrity is not compromised.” The consultation paper also recognises the important links between betting integrity and attracting world-class sporting competition to the UK.
However, an area of possible concern for those operating in the gaming sector may be in relation to the Impact Assessment, which has to be considered for all legislative amendments.
The Impact Assessment and possible concerns
The criteria and guidance used to determine the necessity of an Impact Assessment can be found here. The Commission is of the opinion that an Impact Assessment is not necessary for the proposals as, for example, there would not be any additional burden imposed upon betting operators as the reporting requirements (mentioned previously) will remain unchanged. Yet many of the licensed betting operators are party to information sharing arrangements and memorandums of understanding with the major international SGBs, which already cover the UK gambling market, through organisations such as the Remote Gambling Association and European Sports Security Association. Indeed the proposed amendments may not have a material impact on the international fight against sports corruption as the SBIU, being only one part of a complex global sports betting integrity picture, may provide little information to international SGBs which is substantially different from that already received from these other organisations run by the regulated betting operators themselves, who have as much to lose from match fixing as SGBs do. Therefore although any steps taken to reduce the impact of corruption in any industry or sector, with sport being a particularly hot topic, are to be welcomed it has to proportional factoring in any double expenditure for businesses. An Impact Assessment would clarify the issue of proportionality and the likely commercial worth of the proposed amendments.
Question 1: Do you agree that the International Olympic Committee should be added to Schedule 6, Part 3 of the Gambling Act 2003? Please provide reasons for your response.
Question 2: Do you agree with the bodies proposed to be added to Schedule 6, Parts 2 and 3 of the Gambling Act 2005? Please provide reasons for your response.
Question 3: In addition to the SGBs listed on Part 3 of the Schedule, are there any other bodies you think should be on the list? Please provide reasons for your response.
Question 4: Do you agree that the criteria requiring an impact assessment do not apply? If not, please explain why and include details of the burdens and/or costs that you believe will result from these proposals.
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Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.