Commission maintains watching brief on in-play

Commission maintains watching brief on in-play

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
In-play developments prompt new position paper

The clean bill of health given to in-play betting in the Gambling Commission’s latest position paper released late last week has been welcomed by the legal experts and industry figures.

The paper said that though the in-play market has developed significantly since the UK’s gambling regulator last issued a paper on the area in 2009, it was not concerned that its evolution as a product was any cause for concern as it stands.

The report stated: “The Commission does not consider, at this time, that in-play betting represents such a significant risk to the licensing objectives that additional measures are required... In-play betting does not appear to cause unacceptable risks to fairness and openness as long as bettors are sufficiently aware of their own position compared to that of other bettors and betting operators.”

David Clifton, director of legal consultancy Clifton Davies, said he didn’t detect any shift in attitude on the part of the Commission from 2009. “What comes across loud and clear from the new position paper is that the Commission does not consider that in-play betting presently poses any significantly greater risk to the licensing objectives under the Gambling Act 2005 than other forms of gambling,” he told TotallyGaming.com.

Industry veteran and now international development director at iSport Genius Lee Richardson agreed that the Commission’s findings in this paper spelled good news for the sector. “It’s been about ten years since the UKGC held its first workshop on the then-embryonic in-running betting sector, so it’s encouraging that they still feel it’s still well catered for under current Gambling Act legislation.”

Speaking to TotallyGaming.com, he added: “It’s also been one of the biggest innovations in the sports-betting field of the past decade, and provides yet more proof that big-data has a key role to play, for both the operator and trader, as well as the punter who likes to bet ‘in-running’, and with knowledge”

Where there are concerns on the part of the Commission with regard to any potential impact on its licensing objectives, they relate largely to the use of technology, not only by the operators but also by trading rooms. The paper points out that six such rooms are licensed currently.

There has been much controversy around the practice of so-called courtsiding in recent years, particularly after an incident that took place at the Australian tennis open in 2014. The Commission points out that there is the potential for different parties to be in receipt of more timely information related to any given sporting event, thus creating a potential inequality between the parties concerned in an in-play bet.

However, the Commission says it does not consider that courtsiding amounts to any kind of offence with regard to its regulations, though it does say that the practice may breach the entry terms and conditions of the tournament or event.

The use of big data and what some see as the developing battle of algorithms between operators and professional gamblers such as Tony Bloom’s Starlizard and Mathew Benham’s Smartodds is not addressed by the Commission. However, Clifton points out that the Commission’s comments with regard to technological advances and its duty to protect the consumer and put them at the heart of its regulation do pose longer-term questions.

Richardson said the “big data arms race” between trading teams on both sides of the bet was “well and truly on”.

Totally Gaming says: The publication of the Gambling Commission’s position paper on in-play is timely. Sports-betting is developing at a pace, led by innovations and improvements in the technology that powers the in-play propositions of all the leading operators. The Commission notes that its own historic data suggests in-play is worth circa one-third of total revenues, but indications from recent trading would suggest this has been surpassed and that with many leading firms, in-play now accounts for well over half of total revenues.

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