‘We must engage with decision makers,’ ESSA chief says

‘We must engage with decision makers,’ ESSA chief says

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Mike O'Kane urges proactive approach

ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane has told TotallyGaming.com that the gaming industry must become “more proactive with our engagement with decision makers” after urging a group of senior European politicians to use the British Integrity Action Plan (BIAP) as a best practice model.

O’Kane met with MEPs, senior European Commission officials, representatives from sport and other major stakeholders at the European Parliament, and told them that it was imperative that gambling regulators and law enforcement agencies worked hand-in-glove with sports bodies and regulated betting firms to combat the threats to sporting integrity.

Unveiling the British Integrity Action Plan in Brussels, O’Kane, who also co-chairs the UK’s new Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF), said it constitutes a “blueprint of good practice and effective detection and enforcement measures to protect sporting events, consumers and regulated betting operators from the negative impact of betting related match-fixing”.

O’Kane told TotallyGaming.com that his key aim in Brussels was to place sports integrity on the agenda of European politicians.

“We have put forward an approach that we believe is inclusive and works for the stakeholders concerned,” he said. “The aim of our event was to get this onto the EU agenda, while its too early to comment on this will be acted upon, we do expect it to be examined at a best practice model.

“As an industry we need to be more proactive with our engagement with decision makers that's one of the reasons we planned our event in the European Parliament, so we were reaching out to MEPs and other EU officials.”

The SBIF announced the publication of the British Integrity Action Plan (BIAP), which outlines the UK’s approach to address risks to the integrity of sport and sports betting, in September. It sets out the expected focus of the Gambling Commission, law enforcement agencies, sports governing bodies, player associations, betting operators and government in delivering “effective actions to identify and control risks associated with match-fixing and sports betting integrity”.

The Brussels event, which focused on the role of sporting bodies, betting operators and regulatory authorities in combating match-fixing, included a number of other high-level speakers such as Prof Dr Ben van Rompuy, of the ASSER Institute, Jean-François Reymond, general secretary of EU Athletes, and Szabolcs Horvath, a member of the EU Sport Commission.

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