Football Integrity Promoted By Columbia And Argentina

Although Europe has developed a substantial lead in the global sports betting sector with its comprehensive product portfolio, Latin American jurisdictions are working to narrow the gap by developing regulatory mechanisms the encourage industry, as well as initiatives to protect sports.

Percy Wilman, Special Counsel LatAm at Genius Sports, addressed some of the aspects in which honesty and openness can be enshrined in regional sports in an exclusive interview with SBCNoticias.

Genius Sports, along with data providers Sportradar and Stats Perform, recently signed a second multi-league deal with the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (European Leagues) to capture fast live data in order to give their betting operator clients the most accurate and secure data services.

The European Leagues have opted to work proactively with the regulated betting industry. The question when it comes to Latin America is to recognise that betting on games is already happening and that athletes are able to reap the possible benefits: “Latin American sports can harness the increased fan engagement, transparency and revenue that the legalised betting industry can provide them,” said Wilman.

Football is the world’s most popular betting sport, and is therefore the one most targeted by match-fixers and syndicates. The biggest obstacle, the advisor notes, is getting the leagues to proactively adopt a rigorous integrity policy.

“Many leagues and federations still fear that any form of engagement with the betting industry will increase the threat posed by betting-related corruption. This argument no longer holds weight and sports can’t afford to do nothing because once a match-fixing scandal breaks, it is often too late to recover,” he said.

In Latin American countries such as Brazil, Peru and Argentina, Genius Sports was selected by sports organisations. Leagues like Superliga Argentina, Dimayor Colombia and the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation are leading the way in LatAm by investing on several fronts in long term integrity strategies.

They evaluate and improve their entire activity through a comprehensive honesty audit, including their betting rules, processes for collecting intelligence and investigative procedures.

Genius Sports’ Bet Monitoring System gives each of them vital control over global betting on their games, as well as automated alerts to any possible suspicious activity. And to motivate their teams, administrators, and coaches, these leagues are introducing new educational initiatives to highlight the dangers facing their participants and how they can track any game-manipulating approaches.

The industry is eager to open a legal sports betting market in Brazil, not only because of its scale but also because of the incentives it can bring. Genius Sports has already partnered with GovRisk in a historic conference attended by government officials from Brazil, but the organisation claims it will continue to collaborate through its Integrity Programs, specifically designed to protect the leagues and federations themselves.

“As Brazil moves towards a licensed framework for regulated sports betting, we are helping to showcase to key organisations like the Special Secretariat of Sports and the Brazilian Ministry of Economy how legalisation can better protect sports from match-fixing and betting-related corruption,” Wilman revealed.

In addition, he assured that sharing best practises from other controlled betting markets such as the UK, explaining key market patterns using Bet Monitoring System data, and educating offshore bookmakers on integrity risks that pose, Genius Sports will help ensure integrity is at the heart of new legislation.

“We have played a key role in Colombia and the United States’ recent moves to legalised sports betting, working closely with organisations such as Coljuegos, the American Gaming Association (AGA) and the leagues.”

“We are observing an encouraging trend that both LatAm sports and regulators are more receptive to engaging with legalized sports betting. For the leagues and federations, the key is following the example of Superliga and Dimayor in implementing advanced integrity programs,” he said, and added that regulators can impose a number of measures and licensing conditions to ensure their sports remain transparent and unpredictable.

“Licensed betting operators must be allowed to thrive over their offshore counterparts in a legalized market and therefore, regulators must not be too restrictive in either their tax framework or the markets they allow to be offered. However, regulators should also look to impose key integrity obligations on these licensed operators to ensure effective cooperation and information sharing with the sports,” he added.

“This can mean bookmakers having to cooperate with match-fixing investigations or creating integrity coalitions to identify and share betting trends and best practices.”