8 September, 2021

Collaboration Must Come First

Oliver Lamb, SVP Product Compliance, Kambi, believes unity – not rivalry – is needed in the battle for sporting integrity

There are few industries that have experienced the regulatory movements similar to those felt by the gambling industry over the past decade. The regulatory momentum that began in European markets at the start of the 2010s has spread across the globe, with the move towards locally regulated environments being a clear trend that has taken hold over the previous 10 years.

This spread and fragmentation of regulation across the globe has been a key contributing factor to the ever-sharpening focus on the need for sports betting businesses to take a proactive approach to sporting integrity. The sports betting industry’s foundations are built on the trust that consumers need to have in the integrity of sporting events, and those competing, if they are to place a wager on them.

Any breakdown in trust would have immense implications for the long-term sustainability of the sector, and as such protecting sports from harm and making compliance central to the business model is of paramount importance.

Put simply, without the integrity of the events it takes bets on, a sportsbook would be unable to function, and protecting the games we love from manipulation must be a central tenet of any successful sportsbook. In sports wagering, as in any competitive business environment, there are robust commercial rivalries which exist between operators and suppliers alike. These companies won’t share information or data in many areas, but integrity is one area where there must be an open willingness to cooperate because of just how beneficial it is to all parties.

Protecting the whole sports ecosystem, which incorporates sports bettors, athletes and the institutions of the sports themselves is vital, and collaboration is a cornerstone of best practice here. Detecting corruption requires an earnest and ongoing approach to working together and sharing information. Detecting suspicious betting patterns is naturally much harder for operators who work in silo or do not have the many benefits that come with working with technology providers: with robust and extensive partner networks. And these operators run the risk of working without a full and clear picture of how their customers’ activity matches up with the rest of the market.

Institutions like the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), of which Kambi was the first sports betting technology supplier to attain affiliate membership, enable sports betting stakeholders to work together; in the pursuit of upholding the highest levels of sporting integrity and probity when it comes to betting. The sharing of information when it comes to suspicious betting patterns enhances our ability to protect the entire sports wagering ecosystem, and integrity bodies where open communication is championed have a vital voice in the promotion of integrity.

The Covid-19 pandemic certainly made efforts even more crucial. With more niche sports and competitors – where player data and integrity history is naturally more limited in scope – being thrust into the limelight, joint efforts to combat instances of sporting manipulation (and putting the right processes in place for monitoring events and betting activity) became more vital than ever.

An effective integrity ecosystem requires deep and robust knowledge of competitors and their history, alongside the commitment of stakeholders to work diligently when it comes to sharing new intelligence and advising of potential threats. And yet the importance of collaboration extends beyond operators working together in conjunction with integrity bodies such as the IBIA.

Working closely with sports governing bodies, as well as state and national regulators, is equally crucial when it comes to promoting mutual understanding.

Taking things from the perspective of a sports betting supplier, it is just as important for regulators to understand our service and role as it is for us to understand their rules and expectations. Fostering these relationships ensures rapid launch timetables, enabling companies to deliver bettors engaging and compliant experiences – which put the integrity of sport first.