Dutch Remote Gambling Bill Consultation

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1 Dutch Remote Gambling Bill Consultation Introduction 1. The European Sports Security Association (ESSA), representing the betting integrity interests of the majority of Europe s leading licensed betting operators, is pleased to provide its views on the government s draft legislation proposing the licensing of remote gambling, including sports betting and in particular fixed odds and live (or in- play) betting as provided by ESSA members. 2. We hope that the government will take into account the information contained in this document in its deliberation on the scope and nature of the proposed legislation concerning betting. 3. From the outset, we would like to highlight that ESSA fully supports the policy objectives of the Dutch government with regard to the reform of its gaming policy. In particular we support the fight against organised crime and the protection of consumers. We support the provision of a sports betting product for Dutch residents that is fair and exempt from any manipulation of the sports event itself. It should be noted that as well as sports, the regulated European betting operators and its customers are the victims of corruption in sport and therefore have an interest to preserve its integrity. 4. ESSA is aware that an investigation into the nature and size of match- fixing has also been ordered by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Minister of Security and Justice and is being carried out during the consultation for this bill. 5. As the licensed private betting industry s integrity body, ESSA is of course very happy to participate in that process; we believe that it is vital that all stakeholders are engaged fully if practical and proportionate cross- sector solutions are to be found on this important issue. Background 6. ESSA was established in 2005 by a group of leading licensed online sports betting operators specifically to address betting related match- fixing. The organisation presently represents 15 of the major European licensed betting operators international online operations, including Unibet, Ladbrokes, William Hill, bet365 and bwin.party to name but a few, and also the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) which covers over 7,000 UK betting shops. 7. The organisation s mandate is to facilitate cross- sector partnerships and to protect operators, their customers and sporting bodies from betting related corruption in sports. ESSA does this by coordinating detailed intelligence from its members customer base to identify, track and trace suspicious bets (the Internal Control System (ICS) as it is referred to by operators). That 1

2 information is then quickly passed on to the relevant national regulators and sporting bodies for further investigation and action if deemed necessary. 8. To facilitate the smooth transmission of this data, ESSA has established without any cost to sports - information sharing arrangements with over twenty major national and international sporting bodies such as the IOC and FIFA, along with the national gambling regulators of Gibraltar, Alderney, Malta and the UK which license remote gambling. ESSA s information network provides transnational, even global, coverage and has proved to be highly effective in detecting and deterring betting corruption. ESSA integrity activity: protecting consumers, sports and the licensed betting markets 9. European licensed operators have a clear inherent operational need to ensure the integrity of sporting events and their associated products. ESSA s members work together using sophisticated risk assessment and security protocols to identify suspicious betting patterns and have access to an unrivalled body of expertise and data, including transactional data on our consumers betting activities. Betting operators are indeed the only persons in the chain of stakeholders that know who is betting on what. That information is communicated to the relevant authorities and sporting bodies where necessary. 10. ESSA s members offer tens of thousands of sports betting markets each week with millions of bets assessed and taken. The annual cost of risk management and compliance, both in terms of Internal Control Systems (ICS) and on sports betting product per member is easily a few million EUR per year 1. However, our integrity figures for 2012 show that, after detailed examination of the intelligence surrounding the 109 alerts raised by ESSA members during that timeframe, only 6 were found to be of sufficient concern for a referral to the relevant sporting and regulatory authorities. That is slightly less than 2011, where 8 cases were referred. These numbers are very much in line with the numbers provided by regulatory bodies in Belgium, France or the UK The figures demonstrate the value of the sophisticated detection, deterrent and risk assessment protocols our members employ. In short, corruptors are generally steering clear of ESSA s well- regulated and vigilant sports betting operators where detailed audit trails are created resulting in criminals leaving a detailed digital fingerprint from which we can act accordingly. 12. It is important to understand that, unlike other detection systems, only ESSA (and its regulatory and sporting partners) has access to the crucial detailed information surrounding the amounts and locations of the transactions of its members consumers ( who bets on what ). We are, therefore, and unlike other early warning mechanisms that simply follow from the outside perspective changes in odds or betting markets, able to fully evaluate all of the information, including the underlying betting trends, required to properly assess suspicious betting patterns. 1 Excluding other costs e,.g. for bookmakers the negative financial results on product levels.e.g. favourites winning 2 Belgian Coordination unit (voetbalcel) reported 18 reports in 3 years. The French Regulator (Arjel) investigated in the period June 2010 and May 2013, 70 events and referred 4 to sports governing bodies for further follow- up, and the most recent data of the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit of the UK Gambling commission makes reference to 93 disclosures, of which 49 have been closed where the information has been referred to external agencies or where the commission was unable to substantiate suspicions. 2

3 13. ESSA s integrity figures clearly demonstrate the value of our policy of facilitating positive cross- sector partnerships with remote gambling regulators and sporting bodies. Our approach has been particularly successful in driving the criminals away from Europe s highly regulated betting markets, thereby creating a safe and secure environment for our customers. 14. Our expertise is widely valued, and we are currently engaging closely with the IOC, European Commission and Council of Europe to explore possible cross- sector transnational policy actions to address match- fixing. It is vital that the licensed betting industry is fully engaged in such processes if meaningful, practical and proportionate solutions are to be implemented. 15. ESSA has also identified player education as a key element in this area and is a founder member of the betting industry s player education programme begun in 2010 with EU Athletes. That programme has recently won additional funding from the European Commission, which will see the project expanded to reach 15,000 players in 10 sports across 13 European countries between January 2013 and June The education programme is built around a code of conduct which outlines a number of guiding principles, such as know the rules; never bet on your own sport, be careful with handling sensitive information; never fix any part of a game; and report anyone that approaches you to fix a game 3. It is underpinned by face to face tutorials with athletes speaking to athletes about the dangers of manipulating matches for financial gain. The realities of match- fixing 17. The reality of modern- day match- fixing is that it is conducted on a global scale by sophisticated organized criminal groups who primarily target unregulated betting markets, notably in Asia. This is a position which has been recognised by a range of parties such as the IOC, Council of Europe, European Commission and more recently Europol Whilst regulated European betting markets are safe environments for consumers, the licensed betting industry has long understood the limitations of a segregated betting market across Europe. As a result, ESSA and others within the sector have focused on cross- jurisdiction measures to protect consumers and sports alike. 19. This was most recently demonstrated by the statement of intent 5, signed by the major betting operators, IOC and the British Gambling Commission prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Under that agreement, operators located both inside and outside of the UK reaffirmed their commitment to report information to the UK authorities, to not take bets from IOC accredited individuals and to ensure that their monitoring systems were manned 24/7 during the Games. 20. The licensed betting sector endorsed this non- statutory approach even though, as the British Gambling Commission has stated, the threat to the Games and British consumers was relatively low 6 and where the industry had seen no instances of betting- related integrity breaches in 3 press/news- from- eu- athletes/eu- athletes- news/article/eu- sports- commissioner- supports- eu- athletes- and- online- betting- industry- education- program- against- ma.html?tx_ttnews%5bbackpid%5d=361&chash=41604e129ff634c813751e6b8d6feb largest- football- match- fixing- investigation- europe Page 20 - Gambling Commission Annual Reports and Account 2011/12 3

4 past Olympics (albeit the are example of some non- betting related fixing). However, the licensed betting sector viewed this as an important joint action - as it has done with regard to other major sporting events - with benefits for all stakeholders. 21. ESSA believes that such multi- party agreements have the potential to be far more effective and have greater impact than national legislation, which can only bring a limited number of operators within its statutory scope. Indeed, it is fundamental to remember that the corruption of sporting events is widely acknowledged to be primarily driven by the unlicensed market and criminal elements operating in Asia and therefore outside of national European legalisation. 22. ESSA is working closely with European Commission in this area to promote cross- sector partnerships as it develops is recommendation on match- fixing. We are also active in the Council of Europe s deliberations as it progresses towards an international convention on this issue. Both organisations are seeking to establish international cooperation and sustainable dialogue between regulators, sports and operators as key compound to address a transnational issue. 23. We support practical and proportionate solutions and as such it is also important to recognise that to manipulate a sporting event criminals seek the cooperation of corrupt sportspeople and will look for opportunities to exploit deficiencies in the governance of sports, notably those lacking sufficient rules and enforcement mechanisms and with poor financial records. 24. ESSA believes that more action is required to identify and address why sportspeople engage in corruption if workable and effective measures are to be employed in this area. For example, a report in 2012 by FIFPro 7, the global players union, found that of 3,357 professional footballers surveyed in Eastern Europe, 41.4% did not have their salaries paid on time, 5.5% had to wait more than 6 months and 2.2% had to wait more than a year for their salaries to be paid. 25. Such poor governance issues within sport have undoubtedly contributed to players being more vulnerable to approaches from corrupters. Any policy to address match- fixing must take into account all of the components that contribute to this issue, and that means deficiencies within sport itself. It is vital that any action be the result of a detailed evidence- based analysis that involves all stakeholders if effective solutions are to be identified and implemented. 26. It is also important to understand that betting consumers are potentially adversely impacted by all forms of match- fixing, that is betting and non- betting related. We are not in any way suggesting that the legislation should be expanded accordingly, but there is a danger within this debate that we become preoccupied with the betting aspect of this corruption and ignore the many examples of non- betting related match- fixing in sport which are not being addressed. 27. After all, sporting related match- fixing also has an adverse impact on betting markets and consequently consumers. It also attacks the fairness of those sporting competitions and outcomes, thereby adversely impacting on those that have bet on those corrupted events. For example, whilst we have no indication of any betting related corruption during the 2012 London Games, there were unfortunately non- betting related incidents, notably in badminton. 7 FIFPro Black Book: 20Europe%20WEB%20DOWNLOAD.pdf 4

5 28. A report by Coventry University in , which evaluated the prevalence of corruption in global sport between 2000 and 2010, employing a database of 2,089 cases of corruption (96% being doping related - contrary to the comments from certain sports it remains, statistically, the major source of sporting corruption) found that non- betting related match- fixing represented nearly half of all match- fixing (which itself represents less than 3% of all sporting corruption). That is not to deflect from betting related corruption, it is simply an acknowledgement that match- fixing is a wider issue than just betting and potential solutions also need to recognise that. 29. One concern about the current Dutch Gambling Bill is that there is no mention of a requirement for operators to report any suspicious betting patterns. We would highly recommend the inclusion of a unit that deals with reports of betting related corruption, similar to the British Gambling Commission s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU). The SBIU collects information and develops intelligence about potentially corrupt betting activity involving sport. Members of the SBIU receive information from a number sources which includes (but is not limited to) alerts from operators about suspicious activity on betting markets, concerns from sports governing bodies or tip offs through a confidential intelligence line 9. The myths about live and online betting 30. There is a growing and unsubstantiated view that match- fixing can be addressed by limiting the betting markets offered by licensed and regulated operators, and in particular what some have inaccurately termed high- risk bets such as in- play betting. These assertions lack detailed supporting evidence and misunderstand the intricacies of the market and consumer behaviour. 31. Firstly, corrupters actually seek to manipulate the more mainstream markets with higher financial liquidity 10 which clearly could not be banned, and any attempt to do so would have the undesirable effect of pushing consumers towards the unregulated market, which has no transparency or accountability and would be virtually impossible to monitor, detect and disrupt suspicious betting activity. Furthermore, an unattractive betting offer under local Dutch licenses, e.g. range of events and quality of the product, would have a material negative effect on consumer value and undermine channelling of Dutch online betting consumption to Dutch online licenses. 32. Secondly, as Europol and others have detailed, match- fixers bet primarily on the Asian market which is often unregulated, as such is not subject to any product restrictions or impossible to get information from in terms of who is betting on what. There is simply no evidence to support limits on regulated betting markets, which would be an unjustified restriction on trade, based on unsubstantiated integrity grounds. Such market limitations would put European licensed operators at a clear disadvantage, be of no benefit on integrity issues and above all undermine the government s policy to protect consumers and fight crime. 33. Indeed, the British Gambling Commission conducted an examination of the potential regulatory risks for both the betting and sporting sectors in relation to the availability of betting markets. As 8 See FINAL.pdf 9 enfo/intelligence/sbiu.aspx 10 i.e, money in the market which will define their return of investment to corrupt a sports event. A betting market with little liquidity is less attractive to potential corrupters. However, betting markets with more liquidity also provide transparency and the availability of information on markets is an important risk assessment factor and therefore more difficult to manipulate. 5

6 an independent regulatory authority which oversees one of the most significant betting markets in the world, it has access to a considerable amount of betting information, along with the knowledge and expertise from both the licensed betting and UK sporting sectors. 34. The wide ranging consultation conducted by the British Gambling Commission on integrity, including a specific paper on in- running (live or in- play ) betting, resulted in the publication of two position papers 11. With regard to the argument for limiting betting markets on integrity grounds, the Commission which works on the principle of risk based regulation and must act in a proportionate manner, determined that it was not persuaded that there is a sufficient case for restricting types of bets. ESSA fully supports this evidence- based analysis. 35. There is also a unsubstantiated view that online betting creates corruption in sport. Again, it is important to i) acknowledge that match fixing is not something new and continues to occur in land- based betting and ii) to differentiate between the licensed and unlicensed sectors. Licensed online betting has actually facilitated increased security for sporting bodies, consumers and the licensed betting market. Modern digital technologies have allowed us to develop far more efficient and effective anticorruption measures, notably customer verification details (KYC) electronic non- cash payments and digital fingerprints leaving a perfect audit trail for examination and prosecution ESSA s integrity figures are a clear example of this; all regulated online transactions are traceable and operators are therefore able to spot, in real time, any irregular betting patterns and respond accordingly. What we have, via licensed online betting platforms, is access to new evidence channels and increased facilities to identify, trace and punish those that would seek to corrupt sporting events with a view to financially defrauding licensed operators and their consumers. Conclusion 37. European licensed operators have a clear inherent operational need to ensure the integrity of sporting events and their associated products. The modern digital technologies we employ have allowed operators to develop more efficient and effective anti- corruption measures. Such tools should be harnessed through practical and proportionate cross- sector and multi- jurisdictional partnership agreements as demonstrated during the London Olympic Games. 38. Indeed, betting related match- fixing is an issue and danger which cannot be addressed in territorial isolation and there is growing realisation that there is a need for greater cooperation between stakeholders and the establishment of betting intelligence units focused on protecting consumers, sports and regulated betting market from attacks from criminals. 39. It is vital that any solutions are practical, proportionate and evidence- based following detailed discussions with all stakeholders. Implementing arbitrary limits on regulated European betting markets would be an unjustified restriction on trade and be of no clear integrity benefit given that this activity is primarily perpetrated by criminals using the unregulated Asia betting market. Solutions must also include a range of activities, including addressing poor sports governance %20March% pdf & running%20betting%20position%20paper%20- %20March% pdf 6

7 40. ESSA is of the firm opinion that the Dutch reform of its gambling bill will enable the structural cooperation between the key stakeholders (sports state operators) and concludes that the provision of online betting services under Dutch license will strengthen the shared concern to preserve the integrity of sports. 41. Besides sharing its expertise in the legislative process going forward, ESSA would be delighted to discuss establishing an information sharing agreement with the Dutch regulatory authorities as part of that process, as we have established with comparable bodies in other countries which license remote gambling such as the UK, Malta, Gibraltar and Alderney. We are of course also open to similar discussions with any national sporting bodies. 7

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