BetFairs message to the UKs Gambling Commission on betting and the integrity of sports

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Via Medemi (109 comments on their thread, and still growing), BetFair (PDF file):

3 August 2007

Integrity in Sports Betting Issues Paper Consultation Co-ordinator Gambling Commission Victoria Square House Victoria Square Birmingham B2 4BP

Dear Sir/Madam,


I am writing on behalf of Betfair in response to the Commission’s “Issues” paper of May 2007 but have restricted this response to those questions in the paper on which Betfair has a strong view. The questions from the Commission’s paper are reproduced below in italics, followed by the Betfair response.

• What evidence is there of the incidents giving rise to concern about the integrity of sports betting in Great Britain?
• Are additional measures necessary and appropriate to uphold integrity in sports betting in Great Britain and if yes what are they?
• What is the detailed breakdown of their cost?

The evidence suggests that incidents giving rise to concern about the integrity of sports betting in Great Britain are few and far between. This is perhaps contrary to the perception created by the media and skewed somewhat by the ‘purge’ that is taking place in British horseracing.

Betfair believes that the internal measures it has in place, together with its formal agreements with sporting regulators are necessary but sufficient to uphold the integrity of betting through the Betfair exchange. The cost of ‘policing’ a sport is not something Betfair is able to comment on, but by way of comparison, Betfair’s integrity department (which covers all sport globally) is 7 strong with an annual budget of around ?250,000.

• Should each type of bet in each sport be risk-assessed? If so, by whom?
• Do you consider some types of betting to present a greater risk of the integrity of sport than others?
• If you consider some types of bets to be riskier than others, should further measures be taken to regulate them?
• Should the Commission require the gambling industry to offer only certain categories of betting opporunities?

A risk assessment of each bet type is something which any betting operator would carry out as a matter of course. A betting exchange is reliant on the confidence of its customers that the markets it offers are fair, so will not want to offer a market which is perceived as open to corruption.

Some types of bet do present a greater risk to the integrity of a sport and they are generally those bets that occur within a sporting event as opposed to the outcome of the event itself.

In these cases it is perhaps the performance of one player that could be influenced for commercial gain. However, the vast majority of these types of bet have historically been offered by the spread betting firms (‘player performance’ indices most obviously) who will not be regulated by the Commission.

It is Betfair’s stance not to offer markets which pose integrity and/or perception concerns for sporting regulators. What might constitute such a market can be established through consultation with the sports and historically Betfair has taken the decision not to offer certain markets after such consultation. Betfair would always advocate a voluntary code of conduct between betting operators and sports governing bodies in this matter.

Restrictions imposed on betting operators in this area by the Commission (or any veto given to the sporting regulators) would obviously put UK licensed operators at a competitive disadvantage against operators not licensed by the Commission. In addition such restrictions would be undermined by the fact that they would not apply to spread betting firms and nor would they apply to betting operators in other EEA States who (pursuant to s.331 of the Act) would be allowed to advertise a betting market into the UK that a UK operator was not allowed to offer.

• Would integrity in sports betting be improved if there was a single source of results for each UK sport and if so, how do you suggest this might operate?

In short, no. The final result of any event is almost always taken from the governing body. The collection, presentation and distribution of sports results is an entire industry in itself. The speed with which results are available has to be balanced by accuracy and Betfair considers the data providers in place now, to be more than adequate. In Betfair’s experience customers do not have concerns with the sources used to settle markets providing the details of those sources are clearly stated within the operator’s rules.

Please let me know if you have any questions or require further clarity in relation to any of the above.

Yours faithfully,

David O’Reilly Legal Counsel

The UK&#8217-s Gambling Commission is keeping this issue under review. (PDF file)

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Towards an anti-drugs and anti-corruption body for all sports? – BetFairs proposal…

No GravatarPlay The Game [I like that website title :-D ]:

Betting industry leader calls for sport world anti-corruption agency

8 April 2008

by Michael Herborn

Mark Davies, managing director of global betting giant Betfair, has called for a world anti-corruption agency for sport. He envisions that the anti-corruption agency would operate along the same lines as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), perhaps encompassing the role as both global watchdog for financial as well as pharmaceutical corruption of sport. “There isn&#8217-t a body that sits at the top of sport that&#8217-s something we&#8217-d love to see, a world integrity agency that encompasses both drugs and betting and any other form of corruption,” Davies told New Zealand newspaper the Sunday Star Times at the Leaders in Sport conference in Auckland on 4 April 2008. “For me it should be the same body. If a sportsman is trying to corrupt by enhancing his performance by drugs or trying to corrupt by minimising his performance and make money off the back of it, I don&#8217-t see a distinction.” [&#8230-]

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Lawrence Donegan:

Odds-on liquidity showing interest in Scottish youth

Can it really be more than a month since Betfair&#8217-s Mark Davies appeared in print to reject the suggestion that the gambling boom is in any way responsible for the apparent increase in corruption in sport, by pointing out that dodgy dealing has been around since the days of the gladiators? Presumably, reports of 15 football matches from this season being under investigation will see Davis, like Edward Gibbon in a pork-pie hat, return to the fray with another tale from the Colosseum. Meanwhile, far from events at Anfield – figuratively if not geographically – comes news that under-21 games in Scotland are the subject of huge bets by Asian gamblers. Some might think this is a sinister development but not the Betfair spokesman, who told the Daily Record last month that the company would be happy to open a book on the youth sporting market if there was &#8220-liquidity and interest&#8221-.

With all due respect to the Guardian blogger cited above, I side with Mark Davies. See his verbatim, just below.


Mark Davies, BetFair’s Managing Director (Corporate Affairs)

Mark Davies (BetFair’s Managing Director)


Mark Davies interviewed by The Daily Telegraph (in October 2007):

[Tennis] has always been liable to corruption.

I think that all sport has always been liable to corruption, by the very nature of it producing clear results one way or another. They say that chariot races were rigged for financial reward. I don&#8217-t see why subsequent sporting events should suddenly have been less liable to corrupt practice. We would strongly dispute the idea that sport suddenly has a corruption problem because of the boom in gambling.

The amount of money bet in the legal market may have grown — who knows if it has risen or fallen in the illegal one? — but the number of people who can be tempted by that money and use it for corrupt reasons is the same as it always was.

BetFair-TradeFair fights corruption, while TradeSports-InTrade does not.

No GravatarTennis Corruption - NYT


BetFair-TradeFair is legal and has ethics, while TradeSports-InTrade is not and has none.


Via Steve Roman who provides the recap and another excerpt, The New York Times:

[&#8230-] At the center of the investigation is Betfair, one of the largest so-called online sports exchanges, which matches bettors directly against each other, rather than against the house, as traditional bookmakers do. Betfair set off the current crisis when it voided $7 million in bets after Mr. Davydenko withdrew from a match against 74th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina at the Prokom Open in August in Sopot, Poland. Mr. Davydenko retired because of an injury with Mr. Vassallo Arguello ahead, 2-6, 6-3, 2-1. During the match, Betfair notified the ATP that its security team had recognized irregular betting patterns.

[&#8230-] At Betfair, which is based in London, tennis ranks third behind horse racing and soccer among its one million customers, who together place five million bets each day. More than $60 million was handled for the Wimbledon’s men’s final, won by Roger Federer over Rafael Nadal.

Robin Marks, a Betfair spokesman, said the decision to void the bets from the match in Poland — the first time the company had ever done so — was an easy one. A large amount of money was coming in for the obscure match, Mr. Marks said, and the betting patterns made little sense: Mr. Davydenko went from an odds-on favorite to a significant underdog before the match started, and his odds drifted higher and more money came in for Mr. Vassallo Arguello even after Mr. Davydenko won the first set.

By the next morning, Betfair’s 40-person security team had unearthed additional information by combing its records and tracing unique Internet addresses. Betfair passed on that information in accordance with the ATP’s anti-corruption program, which was put in place in 2003 in the wake of a match-fixing scandal in cricket. Mr. Marks said Betfair has similar agreements with 28 other sports leagues on which it takes bets. He declined to specify what Betfair had found. “Why would the betting patterns change before a ball was even hit?” Mr. Marks said. “Why would more money come in against him when he had already won the first set? You come to the assumption that somebody knew something.” [&#8230-]

Previously: BetFair has an anti-fraud team whereas InTrade-TradeSports has none.

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