LATAM: Embrace betting to keep sport clean, says integrity expert

LATAM: Embrace betting to keep sport clean, says integrity expert

Monday, May 23, 2016 Totally Gaming
Thomas Büchler De la Cruz said regulators must make sure the legality of betting and integrity are intertwined

Sport in Latin America has a better chance of staying clean if regulators embrace rather than outlaw sports betting, according to integrity expert Thomas Büchler De la Cruz.

With sports betting is set to be legalised in countries such as Brazil and Columbia in the coming months, there are some that worry sport within the region could be infiltrated by match-fixers. However, Büchler De la Cruz, the former executive manager of Fifa subsidiary Early Warning System (EWS), argues that regulators in Latin America should focus on introducing a framework that promotes honesty and openness, rather than pushing betting back into the black market.

Büchler De la Cruz has spent the last 19 years in the lottery and sports betting sectors, with a particular focus on match-fixing prevention, security, corporate social responsibility and gaming addiction. Now president of TB Swiss Consulting, Büchler De la Cruz will be leading a session entitled ‘Ensuring Integrity in Sports Betting’ at next week’s much-anticipated Juegos Miami event.

“I do believe that legal and integrity go hand in hand,” he said. “You cannot legalise and regulate the gaming sector without obeying certain integrity issues and standards.

“A strong national and regulated market will form a solid ground. Healthy competition, but only in a regulated environment, will help to grow and improve security at the same time. Sports betting is good, important, fun and essential in today’s world, but protection, prevention and education to the public, players and athletes are fundamental.”

Büchler De la Cruz’s session at Juegos Miami will give a global overview of what is happening in the world of sports integrity, as well as a regional spotlight highlighting Concacaf's work to ensure sports integrity in the Americas. Concacaf, football’s regulatory body in North and Central America and the Caribbean, has taken a number of steps to prevent match-fixing in recent years, notably working with agencies such as Interpol and partnering with integrity groups ESSA and Fifa EWS, as well as data specialist Sportradar.

Büchler De la Cruz believes there are different threats in different parts of the Latam region, but said he hopes that his Juegos Miami session will encourage attendees to consider the benefits of sports betting.

“I would consider the Latam region still a virgin playing field where both lots and nothing is happening," he said. "This depends generally from country to country and includes a region’s nature and culture.

“In my session I want to convince governments, regulators and operators not to be afraid of sports betting and to indulge in this fascinating and popular part of gaming. Support the people’s wish to play but take considerate security and integrity steps.”

With just days to go until the gaming industry arrives in Florida, Büchler De la Cruz added that he believes Juegos Miami will be of great benefit to attendees and could help boost the sector itself across the region. 

Büchler De la Cruz added: “This new kind of event for Latam promises to be a new form of resourcing, informing and networking. Many international key players will gather there. It will be a fine trade show that will have some interesting and useful innovations and creations.”

- Juegos Miami takes place at The Biltmore, Coral Gables from May 31 to June 3. For more information, visit www.juegosmiami.com. To apply for your invitation* visit www.juegosmiami.com to find out more, and follow @JuegosMiami on Twitter and visit the event’s Facebook page for further information and the latest updates. Attendance at Juegos Miami will be limited to senior decision makers (owner, director, C-Level exec) from operating companies (private and public including state lotteries), government and regulators from the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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