In November 2013, two studies were launched related to the prevention and fight against betting-related match-fixing. The results of these studies are now finalised and publicly available.
The first study, carried out by TMC ASSER Instituut, concerns the provisions and practices on betting-related match fixing in sports within the 28 Member States. Respondents in each Member State reported on that state’s gambling-related provisions in respect of football and tennis and (in each country) a third sport determined on the basis of either its popularity or the existence of betting-related “scandals” in that sport.
The report compares the Member States’ regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks relating to risk assessment and conflict of interest management, with a view to indicating areas of best practice, identifying particularly good legislative frameworks and highlighting areas where change was either desirable or necessary.
While some individual Member States have legislation which might provide templates that others could adapt for their own use, the authors were not convinced that “more law”, whether at the national or European level, was desirable. Rather, more effective cooperation among the stakeholders was identified as being more likely to provide tangible benefits than would new legal frameworks.
The second study, carried out Oxford Research and VU Amsterdam, focuses on the regulation of information collection, storage, and sharing of information on suspicious sports betting activity, examining both formal regulations imposed through the legal and official regulatory system in each of the EU 28 Member States, along with industry-led self-regulatory approaches.
Determining the existence of suspicious betting patterns requires a mix of top-down statistical approaches to monitoring the betting markets, supplemented by investigative processes, expert level knowledge of a particular sport or market, and in many cases, common sense. It is inherently infeasible for a single agency or type of organisation to be in a position to carry out this triangulation on its own. To establish an efficient framework for protecting betting integrity, the key parts must all collaborate through the sharing of information.
Specific barriers to information sharing generally fall into two types: legal barriers and practical barriers. Despite a common EU framework for data protection being in place, it is unclear what information can be shared in which circumstances. The creation of a linked network of National Platforms, as suggested by the Council of Europe in the draft convention on match-fixing, could solve some of the practical problems related to sharing of information across borders.
Both studies will contribute to the preparation of the Commission Recommendation on best practices in the prevention and combatting of betting-related match-fixing, as announced in its Communication 'Towards a comprehensive European framework on online gambling.
They will also be discussed by the EU Expert Group on Match Fixing as part of its work in accordance with the 2014-17 work plan on sport.