The integrity framework that can save the ‘Game Act’ and serve as a model for U.S. sports betting legalization

Published 07 June 2017 | Authored by: Daniel L. Wallach, Kevin Carpenter, Leigh Thompson, Jack Anderson

This article suggests enhancements to the proposed bill called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (the “GAME Act”) that would repeal the federal prohibition against state-sanctioned sports gambling (under PASPA - The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), and allow states to legalize sports betting if appropriate consumer protections are in place.

The authors of this article draw on integrity frameworks from Great Britain, Australia and Europe to provide workable and test solutions to the issues deriving from the legalisation of sports betting.

The movement to legalize sports betting throughout the United States received a significant boost on the 23 May 2017 when New Jersey Congressman Frank J. Pallone—the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee —introduced a “discussion draft” of a proposed bill[1], called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (the “GAME Act”). The GAME Act would repeal the federal prohibition against state-sanctioned sports gambling (under The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), and allow states to legalize sports betting if appropriate consumer protections are in place.  These consumer protections—as mandated by the GAME Act—include requirements for licensing or certification, age and location verification, appropriate tax collection, transparency and integrity, and privacy and data security as well as safeguards against financial crime and compulsive play.

While the specifics of these proposed consumer protections are rather sparse—requiring states only to implement “appropriate” safeguards in these crucial areas (without spelling them out)—the GAME Act is still the most detailed federal proposal on the subject of sports betting since the enactment of PASPA some 25 years earlier. But we do not expect this proposal to be enacted any time soon. Far from a finished work-product (it is just a “discussion draft” at this point), the GAME Act is intended to “spark additional conversation” on the subject of legalized sports betting. Towards that end, the House Committee press release[2] accompanying the “discussion draft” invites other stakeholders (namely, the U.S. professional sports leagues and the NCAA) to provide comments on the draft. The press release—written by Democratic staffers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee—optimistically expresses the hope that “all interested parties can come together to support a bill that recognizes the new realities of gambling and takes critical steps to ensure integrity, accountability, and basic consumer protection are in place.

 

Integrity Monitoring is Critical to U.S. League Support

How will the U.S. sports leagues respond to this discussion draft? Probably without much enthusiasm, unless important strategic additions are made to the bill. As presently constituted, the discussion draft of the GAME Act lacks the necessary detail and specifics in the all-important area of ‘sport integrity’ to be taken seriously by the leagues at this early juncture. Recall that PASPA, which was passed at the behest of the leagues, was enacted primarily to “maintain the integrity of professional and amateur sports.” (Sen. Rep. 102-248, 102nd Cong., 1st Sess. 4, reprinted in 1992 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3553, 3555). The Report of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the primary source of PASPA’s legislative history, declared that that “sports gambling threatens the integrity of, and public confidence in, amateur and professional sports,” and reasoned that “[w]idespread legalization would inevitably promote suspicion about controversial plays and lead fans to think ‘the fix was in’ whenever their team failed to beat the point spread.” (Id. at 3556).

Along those same lines, the U.S. sports leagues’ longstanding opposition to sports gambling is deeply rooted in concerns about match-fixing and game integrity.  The leagues’ position in this regard was perhaps most forcefully articulated by National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell in an affidavit submitted in National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Christie, Case No. 3:12-cv-04947 (the “Christie I” case). Goodell’s affidavit—submitted as part of a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent New Jersey from implementing its 2012 sports wagering law—asserts that expanded sports wagering would inevitably fuel suspicion about match-fixing:

The spread of sports betting . . . threatens to damage irreparably damage the integrity of, and public confidence in, NFL football. An increase in state-promoted sports betting would wrongly and unfairly engender suspicion and cynicism toward every on-the-field NFL event that affects the betting line. If gambling is freely permitted on sporting events, normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalties, and play calling will inevitably fuel suspicion, distrust and accusations of point-shaving or game fixing.

The NFL’s position has not changed in the nearly five years that have passed since Goodell filed that affidavit. Indeed, at a recent NFL owners’ meeting, Goodell reiterated[3] that the NFL “still strongly oppose[s] legalized sports gambling,” adding that “[t]he integrity of our game is number one. We will not compromise on that.” 

Nonetheless, the leagues have begun to soften in their opposition to expanded legal sports betting. In November 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver penned a New York Times op-ed[4] urging Congress to “adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.” Such requirements and safeguards, as envisioned by Silver, would include “mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements; a licensing protocol to ensure betting operators are legitimate; minimum-age verification measures; geo-blocking technology to ensure betting is available only where it is legal; mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems; and education about responsible gaming.

In calling for a “comprehensive federal solution,” Silver stressed that “[a]ny new approach must ensure the integrity of the game.” Towards that end, Silver has advocated a European-style “integrity monitoring” system that would track the wagering on sporting events in order to detect unusual or suspicious betting patterns that might help identify fixed matches. In a 2015 interview[5], Silver noted that this type of tracking system is successfully employed in European betting markets. “Because they have all that data, they’re able to monitor it,” Silver said. “And if there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange. If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it.” Note Silver’s use of the pronoun “we”, inferring that the leagues would want to have “real-time” access to all of the wagering activity.

In a 2016 interview[6], Silver reiterated the need for a stock exchange-like monitoring system as the focal point of any U.S. sports betting regulatory structure:

Like the stock market with insider trading, if you don’t have an open exchange, you can’t know what insider trading is going on. And to me, when there’s an enormous amount of betting that’s all underground, we have no idea what’s going on, no transparency to the league, we have no sense of what’s happening — now, don't get me wrong, we have lots of ways to monitor it out there — but if all that is going on anyway, it should be legal, it should be regulated, transparent to the league.

Silver’s vision of a national monitoring system—with the leagues having real-time access to the betting data—would seem to be the key to enlisting the leagues’ support for a federal sports betting bill. Since the support of the leagues is critical to any legalization measure (especially given their vast resources and strong lobbying presence on Capitol Hill), any proposed bill—to have a realistic chance of passage—would presumably need to meaningfully address the consumer protections and integrity safeguards proposed by Silver in his 2014 New York Times op-ed.

 

The GAME Act’s Lack of Specifics on Integrity Monitoring

And this is where the GAME Act still needs a bit of work. Although the Act sets forth twelve (12) mandatory “minimum consumer protections,” including those highlighted by Silver in his New York Times Op-ed, these provisions lack sufficient specificity at this juncture. In each “consumer protection” category, the GAME Act only obligates a state to enact “appropriate” measures (but without specifying what those are). For example, Section 2(b)(11)—entitled “Integrity Safeguards”—requires that a state enact “appropriate safeguards to ensure, to a reasonable degree of certainty, the integrity of the sporting event, including limitations on a bet or wager accepted during the sporting event.” Could this be any more vague? Who determines what is an ‘appropriate’ safeguard? The state? The federal government? Or, perhaps, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the federal governmental agency that would be empowered by the GAME Act to enforce its provisions?

More importantly, the GAME Act does not mandate any specific integrity safeguards nor does it offer any illustrative examples as to what types of measures would be "appropriate" in this vital area of concern. Conspicuous by its absence here is any reference to a "monitoring" system that would track the wagering activity (as envisioned by Silver) or protocols for cooperation and information-sharing among licensees, regulatory bodies, sports leagues, and law enforcement authorities. Without addressing these key integrity elements, it is difficult to envision Adam Silver—the most vocal proponent of legalized sports betting among the U.S. sports league commissioners—supporting the GAME Act in its current iteration.

This lack of specificity is apparently by design, as the proposed “discussion draft vests considerable discretion and authority to the individual states to “fill in the blanks.” In the press release accompanying the roll-out of the discussion draft, the Energy and Commerce Committee declared that the GAME Act is “intended to remove the federal obstacles to legalized gambling at the state level.” The press release clarifies that the GAME Act “does not create a federal framework for gambling. Instead, it allows states to determine what is best for their own citizens.

Through this declaration of intent, the GAME Act exposes the fault lines in the current debate surrounding the legalization of sports betting in the United States: should there be a comprehensive federal system of regulation (as advocated by the NBA’s Silver) or should sports betting be primarily legislated and regulated on the state level? With respect to the former, one possibility—floated by former NBA Commissioner David Stern[7]—would be for Congress to “amend” PASPA to provide a uniform scheme of federal regulation that would allow states and sports leagues to either “opt-in” or “opt-out.” Under such a federal system, Congress would set the minimum regulatory standards and states would then have the choice of whether to participate or not. On the other end of the ideological spectrum is the American Gaming Association (the lobbying arm of the U.S. casino industry), which believes that that the question of whether to legalize sports betting is one that should be left up to the states entirely (as with other forms of gambling), and therefore advocates an outright repeal of PASPA. The GAME Act plainly espouses the latter approach.

 

Does a state-by-state approach make sense in the area of sport integrity?

While state regulatory bodies are obviously well-equipped to oversee the licensing of operators and enforce compliance with general regulatory requirements, the integrity risk associated with sports wagering transcends state borders and thus requires a more proactive and collaborative approach. Indeed, given the cross-border nature of match-fixing, it would seem impractical and inefficient for a single state regulatory body—one of potentially fifty (50) in the United States —to effectively manage the herculean task of safeguarding the integrity of sports. Compounding this difficulty would be the vastly different and divergent approaches to state regulation that are likely to emerge following any future repeal of PASPA—what Adam Silver has disparagingly referred to as a “hodgepodge” of state laws.

In the area of sport integrity, a patchwork of different state regulatory approaches could lead to vast inefficiencies, including delays in the collection and dissemination of relevant information. Just try to imagine fifty (50) different state regulatory bodies attempting to collect and process information on suspicious betting patterns and then deciding whether—and when—to share it with the appropriate public authorities. This naturally begs a number of questions:

  • How do you define a “suspicious wager” and/or “suspicious wagering activity”?

  • What criteria would the sports betting operator use to determine and/or identify whether a suspicious wager has been placed?

  • Should the sports betting operator be required to utilize the tracking services of a third party, such as a Genius Sports or Sportradar?

  • What are the reporting obligations of the sports betting operator?

  • Should the sports betting operator be required to share information about suspicious betting patterns with the relevant sports organization? Or just with state regulatory authorities?

  • How soon must the information be reported and/or shared?

  • What are the reporting obligations of the regulatory authority?

  • How soon must such information be shared?

  • When should it be shared with law enforcement authorities?

Leaving the resolution of these crucial questions to each of the individual U.S. states would inevitably lead to divergent approaches, with the very real possibility that some of these issues would remain unaddressed in legislation. This, in turn, would hamper coordination among interested stakeholders, a key aspect of sport integrity. None of the fifty (50) U.S. states—save for Nevada—have any prior experience in regulating sports betting. As we have seen with the recent daily fantasy sports legislation in the United States, each state is likely to formulate its own unique approach to the regulation of sports betting. While we would expect most states to emulate the Nevada regulatory model—often referred to as the “gold standard” in the United States—even that approach may not be sufficient to address the cross-border nature of match manipulation. Nevada Race Books and Sports Pools Regulation 22[8]—which applies to the state’s licensed sports books—requires licensees to report “suspicious wagers” to the Nevada Gaming Control Board in as many as 14 days after the “initial detection by the licensee of facts that may constitute a basis for filing such a report,” although in situations “involving violations that require immediate attention,” the licensee is required to immediately notify the Board by telephone. (Section 21.121). This approach, while adequate in a single-state regulatory regime, does not address collaboration with other regulatory authorities, sports governing bodies, or law enforcement. A more comprehensive and integrated approach is needed if PASPA is repealed.

 

Proposal for the Creation of a National Information Hub

To establish a more efficient framework for protecting the integrity of sport, the authors recommend the establishment of a U.S. national platform or ‘hub’ for the collection and sharing of information relating to sports wagering transactions.  Such a platform is common in mature betting markets, such as Great Britain and Australia, and is recognized in the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (hereafter, the “Council of Europe”) adopted in 2014 and signed by nearly 50 countries. Article 13 requires each member country to set up a national platform to serve as an information hub which would: (a) collect and disseminate relevant information; (b) coordinate the fight against manipulation; (c) receive, centralize and analyze information on irregular and suspicious bets, and, where appropriate, issue “alerts”; (d) report possible infringements on law or regulations to public authorities or to sports organizations and betting operators; and (e) coordinate at a national and international level with all organizations and relevant authorities, including national platforms of other member countries. The creation of a U.S. national information hub, similar to what was recommended by the Council of Europe, could resolve some of the inefficiencies and timing issues relating to the sharing of information across state borders.

Further, it may be helpful to distinguish between a hub that monitors markets 'live' and one that acts as a conduit for information and reports. The Great Britain approach is very much the latter, with the obligation on betting operators to monitor and report suspicious activity to the Sports Betting Integrity Unit (SBIU) to investigate and disseminate. This is slightly different to the central monitoring approach that Adam Silver appears to be advocating but we would argue that it offers three distinct advantages: first, monitoring all betting markets centrally would, we suspect, be extremely resource-intensive. Second, betting operators will have access to much richer data on specific markets than we suspect would be the case if monitoring was done at an aggregate level and—while we may be wrong—we are not presently aware that third-party bet monitoring systems are able to access the full granularity of data betting operators hold. Third, while difficult to quantify, there is a broader benefit in explicitly binding operators into monitoring and reporting in that it encourages a culture of cooperation and becomes more difficult for operators to absolve themselves of any responsibility for upholding integrity.

 

Patterning the U.S. Integrity Framework on the Great Britain, Europe and Australia Models 

In devising an appropriate regulatory framework for the United States, it would be instructive to consider the experiences of mature betting markets such as Great Britain, Australia and Europe. As a starting point, these jurisdictions recognize that transparent, regulated markets are actually an aid to protecting both sports integrity and betting customers. Up until fairly recently, the major U.S. sports leagues have been of the view that because betting is illegal there is little or no risk to sport integrity. The reality, as we know, is that betting is taking place under the radar, which, from a sports integrity point of view, is arguably worse since it means that not only does the risk exist it is not visible and therefore not being managed properly. In this context, one overarching lesson from other jurisdictions is that legalizing betting is not the same thing as legitimizing betting corruption.

A.        The integrity framework in Great Britain

The Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 together provide the key legislative framework for the regulation of gambling in Great Britain.[9],[10] The Gambling Act 2005 establishes the UK Gambling Commission as the unified gambling regulator and sets out the core elements of the licensing regime for commercial gambling.[11] The Act makes it an offence to offer facilities for gambling or use premises for gambling without an appropriate licence or permit.

From a betting integrity perspective, the 2005 Act contains two further important provisions:

  • s42 of the Act makes it a criminal offence to cheat at gambling. A person commits an offence if he or she: 

(a) cheats at gambling, or 

(b) does anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling…

            Further:

…cheating at gambling may, in particular, consist of actual or attempted deception or interference in connection with—

(a) the process by which gambling is conducted, or 

(b) a real or virtual game, race or other event or process to which gambling relates.”[12]

In principle, this offence includes manipulating a sporting event for the purposes of fraudulent gain through betting.[13] Sanctions range from a fine to up to two year’s imprisonment.

  • Schedule 6 to the Act lists the relevant bodies with whom the Commission may share information. The listed bodies include law enforcement, regulatory bodies and, crucially, sports governing bodies.[14]

Introduced more recently, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 makes a significant change to the regulatory regime, shifting it to a ‘point of consumption’ basis whereby any betting operator wishing to serve the British market, regardless of location, must be licensed by the Gambling Commission. This ensures that all operators offering bets to British customers, both those based in Britain and in overseas jurisdictions, fall under the same regulatory regime. Critically, from an integrity point of view, this includes regulatory obligations to report suspicious betting activity.[15]

1.     The UK Gambling Commission and regulatory requirements on information sharing

As the statutory body responsible for regulating gambling in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission plays a critical role in protecting sports betting integrity, both through the licensing of betting operators to serve the British market and through the central management and dissemination of information related to potential sports betting corruption.

Central to the Commission’s functions are the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) which set out the key regulatory obligations betting operators must meet in order to hold a licence.[16] Failure to comply with the LCCP can lead the Commission to levy stiff penalties, including fines or withdrawal of an operator’s licence.[17]

In terms of sports betting integrity, Licence Condition 15.1 is the key element of the LCCP since it ensures that suspicious betting information is shared by operators with the Commission and sports governing bodies.[18] In particular, Licence Condition 15.1.1 requires operators to report information to the Commission where it is suspected an offence under the 2005 Act e.g. cheating at gambling has been committed.[19] Licence Condition 15.1.2 further requires operators to provide sports governing bodies listed in Schedule 6 of the 2005 Act with information sufficient to carry out an investigation into any potential breaches of sports integrity rules.[20] The LCCP therefore work in concert with the overarching primary legislation to provide a coherent legal mechanism for sharing information on unusual or suspicious betting.

Since sports governing bodies are not a direct party to the LCCP, it is imperative that betting operators comply with the requirements of Licence Condition 15.1 to ensure that sports are provided with information that may be relevant to the prevention or detection of competition manipulation as soon as possible.[21] Information passed on expeditiously may enable a sports governing body to intervene before an event or aid further investigation into a breach of sports betting rules.[22] In this context, Licence Condition 15.1 acts as a key mechanism to support the free flow of information between stakeholders. This is of particular importance given the increase in licensed operators as a result of the recent move to a ‘point of consumption’ regulatory regime in Britain.[23]

The Commission collects and manages these reports through its own Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU). In this way, the SBIU acts as a central clearing house for information and intelligence on potential sports betting corruption. Importantly, however, the SBIU does not monitor betting markets in real-time; rather the obligation rests with operators to monitor their own markets and to report any suspicious activity to the SBIU which may then undertake further investigation and/or pass the information on to other relevant stakeholders. A number of sports governing bodies also monitor betting markets themselves directly or through the use of third party bet monitoring systems and have bilateral information sharing agreements in place with betting operators.[24]

In addition to licensed betting operators, the Commission also gathers intelligence from two further sources:

  • A confidential reporting line operated by the SBIU which is specifically designed to gather intelligence on sports betting corruption.[25] This is a public-facing line which is open to a wide range of potential sources including but not limited to betting operators, sports participants, law enforcement, the media and members of the public.
  • Through access to reports made by the general public to the charity Crimestoppers which relate to betting integrity.[26] As with the SBIU reporting line, the Crimestoppers line is public-facing but is aimed at gathering information on a broad range of crime, including gambling-related crime.

2.         The Sports Betting Integrity Forum

Sitting above the legal and regulatory mechanisms for information sharing, the Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF) brings together a range of key stakeholders to coordinate the national strategy to tackle sports betting corruption – the Sport and Sports Betting Integrity Action Plan (SBI Action Plan).[27],[28] The SBIF forms a central part of Britain’s "national platform" as envisaged in the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.[29]

The SBIF comprises representatives from the Gambling Commission, sports governing bodies and player associations, betting operators and law enforcement and therefore provides an important forum for coordinating activity across organisational boundaries and for driving improvements in the operation of Britain’s betting integrity framework.

B.        The integrity framework in Australia

In June 2011, Australian sports ministers agreed a National Policy on Match-fixing in Sport[30] with the aim of protecting the integrity of Australian sport.

Apart from enhancing the existing links between governments, major sports, betting operators and national and international law enforcement, the Australian policy revolves around both a National Integrity in Sport Unit and the promotion of a nationally consistent legislative approach to matchfixing.

The National Integrity of Sport Unit provides national oversight, monitoring and coordination of efforts to protect the integrity of sport in Australia from threats of match-fixing both also doping and other forms of corruption.

The specific functions of the National Integrity of Sport Unit are to:

  • provide national coordination and policy direction for sports integrity issues and seek to strengthen relationships between state and territory governments, regulators, sporting organisations, law enforcement, and other agencies as appropriate;
  • work with like-minded nations, the international sports movement, betting operators and regulators on match-fixing and fraudulent betting issues and advocate for a global response to match-fixing;
  • coordinate legislation, regulation, policies and administrative practices between the Commonwealth and the States to allow governments to adopt appropriate measures to ensure sport is drug-free;
  • provide advice and work with individual sports to ensure a robust integrity framework is adopted across the sporting codes and there are no gaps for criminal groups to infiltrate;
  • administer the Sport Integrity Program;
  • undertake research and provide information to support effective approaches to protect the integrity of sport; and
  • support sports by providing online education resources on match-fixing and illicit drugs.

Legislation introducing criminal offences for match-fixing and cheating at gambling has also been adopted in the various states and territories in Australia. In the state of Victoria, for example, a offences were introduced by the Crimes Amendment (Integrity in Sports) Act 2013 (Vic) which came into effect on 24 April 2013 by amendment to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) Under section 195C of the 1958 Act, a person must not engage in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event, knowing that the conduct corrupts the event and having the intention to obtain a financial advantage or cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event. Similarly, section 195D(1) prohibits a person from offering to engage in or encouraging another person to engage in the corrupting conduct.

It is also an offence under section 195D(2) for a person to knowingly or recklessly encourage another person to conceal such corrupt conduct, or be party to an agreement or arrangement in respect of such corrupt conduct relating to the betting on an event, with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage. The maximum penalty for each of these new match-fixing offences is 10 years imprisonment.

C.        The integrity framework in Europe

When considering the policy and action emanating from Europe in relation to the regulation of sports betting and the integrity of sport, there are really two organisations to consider: the European Union (the “EU”) and the Council of Europe.

The attempted steps taken by the EU have echoed some of the same challenges as are faced by the federation of states which make of the United States of America, insofar as across each individual Member State of the EU there is no one unified view on how best to treat sports gambling due to a diversion of opinions be they due to political, social, economic, moral or indeed religious reasons. For this reason, at a recent meeting in Brussels, the European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) made it very clear that at the current time there is no desire whatsoever to take any steps to harmonise the regulation of sports gambling across the Union, and therefore neither will there be a unified approach between the Member States union as to how best to legislate to protect the integrity of sport.

This is where the Council of Europe's actions in recent years become even more important. Although the Council of Europe is, by definition, primarily a European-based institution, it is important to stress firstly it is an entirely separate organisation from the EU, in that it has a wider membership of countries and is the leading human rights organisation on the continent, and secondly a number of the conventions that emanate from the Council are open for signature to countries outside of Europe. 

Specifically related to sports betting regulation and what match-fixing, the Council of Europe has led the way, along with a number of key strategic partners, to draft the Convention Against the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (also known as the 'Macolin Convention').

The relationship between the Convention and the European Union is an interesting one simply due to the definition of "illegal betting" in the Convention because of the current EU member states, 26 of those are ready to sign the convention, however, due to the definition one major territory for gambling within the union (although a small nation) in Malta have a continuing legal challenge which currently prevents the EU, and its Member States, from signing the Convention, and ultimately giving it legal force. Malta claims the definition is incompatible with key EU law and principles in being discriminatory and against the freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services.

Having been closely involved with the development of the Convention, particularly in the past couple of years, I know that one of the target countries outside of Europe to become a signatory of the convention is the United States. Indeed there is probably never been more scrutiny globally of what both the professional sports and the United States government is going to do about the regulation of sports gambling.

What has become apparent in Europe is that often issues of betting regulation and the protection of sport from competition manipulation are not co-dependent and are often confused. It is not true to say that action cannot be taken to disrupt, dismantle and investigate cases of betting corruption without having a regulated betting market.

Going forward, the now called "Macolin Process" is committed to ensuring the widest possible mobilisation of stakeholders towards strategically targeted actions and systematic co-ordination addressing the following priority objectives:

  1. To ensure the signature and the ratification of the Macolin Convention by a maximum number of countries and render it a legally binding reference;

  2. To accelerate the establishment of National Platforms in order to support States in bringing their legislative framework and policies in line with the Macolin Convention;

  3. To consolidate expertise and resources by fostering and facilitating closer co-operative relations between actors and connecting platforms internationally; and

  4. To secure a well-funded structured programme of activity, with clear delivery objectives and shared responsibilities.

In closing, I would like to discuss briefly a central tenet of the Convention, which are the aforementioned National Platforms. The setting up of national platforms between the relevant actors (i.e. sports organisations, government, law enforcement, betting operators etc.) is the centrepiece of the Macolin Convention. They are the first step in building a truly systemic approach, globally connecting the various stakeholders. They must be established according to what is really at stake when fighting against sports manipulations, which implies understanding the threats, measuring the risks, defining procedures and processes and generating trust and confidence between the stakeholders. National Platforms should be given clear competencies and operate within a legal framework enabling strong sanctions and efficient procedures against criminals.

One of the challenges now is for the National Platforms which are already established, such as France, the UK and the Netherlands (none of which are identical in their design and operation) to strengthen their operational processes, and to encourage more countries to establish their own platforms. In this spirit, the Council of Europe has already set up the Network of National Platforms, called the “Copenhagen Group”. "This body will help share experience and practices, and consolidate results of thematic topics to be developed by thematic networks,  for example the Network of National Regulators which was also set up by the Council of Europe, or existing law enforcement networks."

 

Conclusion

There is a growing momentum in the United States for the legalization of sports betting.  Most observers believe that a Congressional repeal or amendment of PASPA to allow state-sanctioned sports betting is less than five years away. While much ink has been devoted to the timing of when that will occur—and the specific mechanism for achieving it (e.g., court challenges to PASPA vs. lobbying Congress to change the law)—very little has been written about what the future regulatory structure will look like and the specific safeguards that will be employed to protect sport integrity. We believe that the most efficient framework for protecting the integrity of sport would involve the centralization of information through a national platform, such as the integrity units that are in place in Great Britain and Australia.

In our view, any hub or platform needs to have at its heart clear, enforceable obligations on operators to share information, both with the regulator and relevant sports organizations, in a timely and efficient manner. As explained above, the Great Britain regulatory model accomplishes this through the UK Gambling Commission as the unified regulator and then cascading these information-sharing obligations through a licensing regime. The challenge in the US is how to ensure there are similarly clear, enforceable obligations on any operator regardless of the state in which they operate or serve (and at the same time avoid a regulatory "race to the bottom" where individual states set lower standards to attract gambling business).

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About the Author

Daniel L. Wallach

Daniel L. Wallach

Daniel Wallach is Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar, and is AV-Rated (the highest level attainable) by Martindale-Hubbell. Mr. Wallach is a nationally recognized authority on gaming law and sports law, and has counseled professional sports teams, fantasy sports operators, casinos, racetracks, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and other industry participants on a wide spectrum of gaming-related matters. He is one of the leading voices in the emerging area of sports gambling law, and, in particular, the laws and rules governing sports betting and fantasy sports.

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Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

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.

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Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

Leigh is a Policy Adviser at the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the umbrella organisation for the governing and representative bodies of sport in the UK.

His main areas of focus include sports betting integrity – principally providing support to the Sports Betting Group – as well as broadcasting, tax and fiscal policy and EU sports policy. He has a background in policy and regulation having held similar posts in other sectors prior to joining the Alliance.

Leigh holds degrees in Economics and Public Policy and recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Law. He has a keen interest in the legal and regulatory aspects of sport.

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Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. He has published widely in the area of sports law including The Legality of Boxing (2007),Textbook on Sports Law (2010), Leading Cases in Sports Law (2013) and EU Sports Law (2017). He is a Chartered Arbitrator and, having previously been an arbitrator with the GAA, FAI and Just Sport Ireland, he is currently a mediator/arbitrator for Sports Resolutions UK and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He supports Doon, Limerick, Munster, Ireland and Watford FC and, yes, he looks like Paul Scholes.

@sportslawMELB 

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