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Working together is the only fix

In his role as interim head at the Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU), intelligence expert Neill Ireland tells Betting Business that the unit is already progressing the recommendations of the Parry report.


he recent allega- tions relating to cricket have high- lighted the threat to the integrity of

sports betting posed by potential corruption. It’s barely six months since Rick Parry’s sports betting integrity panel made their recommendations for a more effective approach to tack- ling the threat to betting related corruption in sport. One of those recommenda- tions was to set up a sports betting intelligence unit (SBIU) within the Commis- sion - and we’ve wasted no time in developing our exist- ing intelligence section to incorporate the unit.

The Parry report recog- nised the Commission’s major focus should continue to be the investigation of crime in relation to corrupt betting. To support this, the panel called for the Commis- sion’s intelligence capability to be enhanced to better gather information from all sources to identify patterns and support criminal inves- tigations into potential match fixing. It also pro- vided a clear endorsement of the collaborative approach we think neces- sary to keep cheats at bay. The Commission’s team has unique experience under

the Gambling Act 2005 and has introduced a range of measures to help the SBIU quickly develop its intelli- gence capability. We’ve met with the leading players from the betting, sports and law enforcement worlds to ensure we are best placed to gather, sift, develop and where appropriate distribute every useful snippet of infor- mation on potentially crimi- nal activity.

Live access to betting market information has been secured and we are considering the potential for further information sharing in addition to the reports already received from betting businesses under licence condition 15.1. The Commission in its co-ordi- nating role has access to the whole intelligence picture and we are enhancing that knowledge and understand- ing by the day. We efficiently assess, investigate and assign reports of suspicious betting using highly developed analytical skills to evaluate a range of intelligence sources. Every report is subject to an initial assessment that may lead us to consider in more detail the betting patterns across the wider industry and to begin to pull together evidence from a wide range of sources.

Our approach to each case is based on the evidence and to date we have found the major- ity of suspicious reports do not lead to the identification of criminal activity.

Our most recently pub- lished figures show that 38 of the 71 reports received and assessed between Septem- ber 2007 and September 2009 have led to no further action under criminal law and it’s likely that the majority of ongoing cases will also take this route. Following an initial assessment, 27 of the reports not yet resolved have led to information being passed to the relevant sports governing body and some of these cases may result in action being taken by the sports body.

Sports retain control of probes into rule breaches but the Commission shares relevant and appropriate intelligence material in support of sports’ investiga- tions. In return sports feed intelligence into the SBIU and sports governing bodies are also beginning to con- sider how to implement the Parry report’s recommenda- tions on enhanced rules and player education.

In the meantime the Com- mission continues to work (in some cases with the support of the police and others) to examine the evi- dence in a small number of criminal investigations. This is complex and painstaking investigative work that requires patience and preci- sion and it is too early to make any prediction on the outcome of such cases. The SBIU is up and running at the Commission and we know that only a truly collab- orative approach to tackling the risk to betting integrity will succeed. Obviously, we cannot openly discuss the information we gather in individual cases but we main- tain a close working relation- ship with sports governing bodies, betting operators and law enforcement agencies because we firmly believe that only by sharing intelli- gence and experience can we keep the cheats out of the regulated market.

The Commission has been acting on Rick Parry’s recommendations

38 BettingBusinessInteractive • SEPTEMBER 2010


“I MUST COMPLAIN THE CARDS ARE ILL SHUFFLED TILL I HAVE A GOOD HAND.” Author and cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)


Horseracing, football or gaming machines?

With the cost of offering horseracing spiralling ever upwards, Nick Norton asked the independents whether its importance to their business had been usurped by football betting or gaming machine income.

It is difficult to judge, as the gap between the three is getting progressively closer and closer. I would agree with Howard Chisholm that we could do without horseracing because of the cost that comes with it. However, it is still the product that draws the majority of punters to my business. The gaming machines are becoming ever more popular and their turnover is not far off that of horseracing, while the rise in the number of bets taken on the Saturdays when the football season is on is very noticeable these days. Special prices and scorecasts on teams local to this region are becoming an increasingly important source of business. The younger punters are just not interested in horseracing – they view it as a day out at a racecourse, rather than something to bet on regularly in shops. Most of our younger cus- tomers either bet on football or play our gaming machines. ------

JIM WINWOOD Winwood & Ridley, Durham

Horseracing is still very much our most important source of business. The major- ity of our customers comprise the older generation who have followed it all of their lives. Most of our younger punters bet solely on football – they wouldn’t know how to back a Yankee or a Lucky 15, but will come in every Saturday for league matches. But with the majority of young gamblers betting online, I believe that when my older customers die off, my busi- ness will follow with them. The outlook for independents is bleak; ten years down the line I can see a scenario where the only high street betting offices that remain are run by the nationals. ------

JOHN TRUESDALE Truesdale Bookmakers, Ayr

The most expensive of these prod- ucts is horseracing. If I were a large national operator, I would be doing as much as I could to channel betting monies into football, gaming machines, greyhounds, virtual racing and numbers games. As the return on investment from these products sig- nificantly exceeds that of horserac- ing, at present there is no incentive to increase horseracing turnover. So for my business it would be a close call between football and gaming machines. When you consider the licence, rent and VAT, the cost of pro- viding gaming machines is quite high, so perhaps football wins it. ------

CHARLES NEEDHAM Tremayne Racing, Leicester

It is difficult to choose between horserac- ing and our Category B2 machines. The fall in turnover from the former is largely attributable to the success of the latter. With horseracing turnover down to around 43 per cent I can see a time when turnover from gaming machines exceeds that of horseracing. Many punters that traditionally would have come in solely for horseracing are now gravitating across and spending a good proportion of their budget on the gaming machines, and we have attracted a new type of cus- tomer who is only interested in playing these machines. Football punters tend to come in only during the season, and then they will simply put their money on, take their coupon and go.


Paddock Bookmakers, Stoke-on-Trent



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