ESSA warns live betting ban would undermine corruption battle

ESSA warns live betting ban would undermine corruption battle

Monday, July 3, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
Law Commission of India looking at betting regulation

International betting integrity body ESSA has advised the Law Commission of India that regulating betting in the country would bring sizeable fiscal and integrity benefits, but warned that draconian restrictions on products such as live betting would undermine the effectiveness of new laws.

In a response to the Commission’s consultation on gambling, the sports integrity organisation highlighted that the current situation is largely untenable. It said: It is clear that, whilst currently illegal in much of India, betting on sport, and particularly the national game of cricket, is widespread and yet largely unregulated and untaxed.

“This has benefited criminal elements, been to the detriment of sport, related investment and public revenues, whilst also denying consumer demand and access to a regulated product. On the basis that prohibition of betting has proved ineffective, and where a renewed drive to impose it would appear impractical, a continuation of the status quo is clearly not advantageous.”

Amid all the concerns around match fixing that would arise from legalising betting, ESSA pointed out that fixing is an activity ‘fundamentally aimed at manipulating sporting events to defraud betting operators and their consumers’.

It explained: “Responsible regulated private betting operators have a clear inherent operational business need to ensure the integrity of sporting events and their associated betting products. Those operators invest significant resources in achieving that and work closely with authorities and sports to create an effective licensing framework that includes specific integrity initiatives.

“This partnership working undoubtedly strengthens the national integrity framework and deters corrupters from those markets, benefiting consumers, sports and operators alike.”

However ESSA was also keen to establish that market restrictions, such as banning live betting, would undercut the efforts of the regulated market as consumers would still seek out such products in the unregulated and criminal arenas.

It said that banning of live betting for integrity issues was of ‘questionable benefit’. It said: “It is important to remember that other integrity measures are available to regulatory authorities, including: information sharing, voiding bets, suspending markets and criminal prosecutions.

“Moreover, unregulated operators around the world will continue to offer whatever types of products they chose without any regulatory limitation, oversight or sanction. Imposing bet type restrictions on regulated operators does not therefore make it any less likely that the sporting events in that licensing jurisdiction will be any safer from betting corruption.

“As such, the proposal that products offered by regulated operators should be restricted on integrity grounds has no firm evidence base and does not represent an effective approach. It is therefore recommended that India should seek to adopt a policy that regulates and allows its citizens access to all types of betting products with a range of licensed betting operators as a means of maintaining both the viability and integrity of its sporting events and betting markets.”

Totally Gaming Says: The fact that the Indian authorities are even discussing the regulation of the betting market shows that progress has been made in that jurisdiction. However, as ESSA pointed out, it’s very easy for well-meaning restrictions to have unintended consequences and banning live betting to curtail spot fixing would still leave the door well open to the criminal elements that surround sport.

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