The European Gaming and Betting Association's second Responsible Gambling Day presentation to European parliamentarians this week was an unqualified success, hammering home the message that Internet gambling operators support the traceability and transparency of the internet to safeguard the integrity of sports
Key stakeholders addressed the European Parliament, calling on the EU to make fact-based decisions when addressing the role of the Internet in sports integrity.
The event, in its second year at the European Parliament in Brussels, was attended by MEPs, the EU Czech Presidency, regulators, academics, representatives from the sporting world (UEFA, FIFA) and leading industry figures.
Delegates discussed the role of the Internet as a tool to improve consumer protection and fraud prevention, with a particular focus on the field of sports betting integrity.
Norbert Teufelberger, a senior executive with a major betting firm and EGBA's chairman said: “Experts made it clear today how the Internet can be used for transparency, prevention and integrity purposes in the gaming and betting industry”.
With one of the morning sessions addressing the concerns around online problem gaming, Prof. Dr. Howard Shaffer from the Harvard Medical School, stressed: “The internet allows us now to scientifically study the actual gaming behaviour of players rather than rely on what they say or remember. The findings have shown us that the overwhelming majority of players gamble online in a very moderate and mild way”. The online gambling group Bwin has been active in sponsoring responsible gambling research at Harvard.
The afternoon session focused on the connection between integrity and sports, with Teufelberger commenting: “The discussion today has shed more light on the various risk factors and respective responsibilities of the different stakeholders in the sport chain to maintain integrity”.
Christofer Fjellner, conservative MEP from Sweden, added: “Today’s experts showed that the Internet offers more possibilities rather than less in terms of preventing fraud and match fixing”.
All relevant sports stakeholders stressed the need for greater cooperation and shared responsibility. This was echoed by Paul Scotney, Director Integrity Services and Licensing of the British Horseracing Authority, who said: “Keeping the sports clean can only work if there is meaningful cooperation between the sports sector, the regulators and the betting operators”.
Khalid Ali, Secretary General, European Sports Security Association (ESSA) then clarified how existing tools provided by the sports betting industry are helping sport federations maintain the highest standards of sporting integrity:
“Our early warning alerts mean that we can work hand in hand with sports regulators and prevent the possibility of sport manipulation," Ali said. "The information provided to the sports federations is free of charge, with all the costs being borne by the online operators that are members of ESSA.”