The Sports Rights Owners Coalition (SROC), established in 2005, represents over 40 organisations from across the sporting spectrum, from tennis, rugby and football to golf, athletics and motor sport, as well as cricket, basketball and racing. Betting regulations affect all of our members. One of the common SROC causes right from the start was to campaign for a regime for sports betting that enables sport to protect its integrity, and establishes a fair financial return to grassroots and professional sports.
Any sports fan cannot fail to have noticed the worrying increase in stories of match-fixing, corruption and betting scandals. The worlds of tennis, football, snooker and cricket have all been affected.
The key issue for sports organisations is the ability to manage the risk levels of the betting that takes place on their events. The development of online sport betting has increased the risks as recognised by the European Court of Justice in the Bwin vs Santa Casa ruling (Point 70). One of the greatest fears of sports is lay bets', bets to lose, or bets on minor outcomes, which can be easily manipulated. The risks are seen as high at lower levels and competitions as demonstrated by the 2008 report on risks to the integrity of sport from betting corruption (Salford University).
As we seek sustainable ways to deal with it, SROC has been pleased to see increasing recognition of our position in key policy and legislative initiatives. Both the European Commission's white paper on sport and the European Parliament's report on the white paper on sport addressed the issue. In 2009, the European Parliament went one step further and adopted the Schaldemose report on the integrity of online gambling, which included recognition of the challenges faced by sports in the face of increasing volumes of bets and, subsequently, an increased chance of corruption. This report called for the adoption of a competition organiser's right', by virtue of which no betting operator could offer bets on a sporting event without entering into a contractual agreement with the organiser. Such agreements will allow for the strict definition of each party's responsibilities in terms of prevention, monitoring and reaction to the risks of fraud, corruption and match-fixing. Moreover, a financial return to the sport would be guaranteed, with funds flowing directly into measures to protect integrity and grassroots funding.
After Australia and New Zealand, France decided to...