The increasing popularity of sports betting and the rapid advance of online technology provide new opportunities for state lotteries, but also for criminal elements that seek to corrupt sports for their own gain. In the following exclusive interview, GLMS President Ludovico Calvi explains why the integrity of sports and the probity of sports betting are inseparable and why the Global Lottery Monitoring System is vital for the future of the world lottery community.
Why is the integrity of sports important to the lottery industry?
Nowadays, if one takes a look at the news, every single day there is a new incident of sport competition manipulation reported, which makes this phenomenon the greatest problem in modern sport, directly undermining the essence of its values and credibility. We strongly believe that protecting ethics in sports means safeguarding the passion and integrity of our children and therefore the future of our society.
In general, the phenomenon of competition manipulation – although it is not exclusively a result of betting activity – undermines the credibility of betting operators and the betting sector as a whole. At the same time, as I mentioned before, it jeopardizes the values and credibility of sports and drives away millions of sports enthusiasts who lose their interest in following or participating in sports.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of lotteries to ensure that they take their role in protecting society and maintaining public order seriously. It is their obligation to take measures to minimize risks, protect their customers, their sector, and the financial sustainability their organizations. At the same time, given their natural mission to support societal good causes, including sports at all levels, it is the duty of lotteries to safeguard the credibility of sports and its inspirational value towards the citizens of their respective communities.
Who are the main stakeholders in the fight against match-fixing?
In order to achieve tangible results when it comes to the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions, at both the national and international levels, the close collaboration of a clearly defined set of stakeholders is essential.
At the national level, the betting sector needs to work closely with sport organizations and law enforcement authorities. The betting sector comprises the legal sports betting operators in each jurisdiction as well as the regulatory betting authorities. Sport organizations would include, among others, National Olympic Committees, the major sport federations, players’ unions, and referees’ unions.
These are the main stakeholders who are called upon by the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulations of Sport Competitions to work together within the framework of a national platform – as mandated per article 13 of the Convention – and closely collaborate on information sharing.
At the international level, GLMS works closely with all main stakeholders. These include international sport organizations such as the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, and the Tennis Integrity Unit. We also collaborate with international law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL and the national regulatory authorities of France, Norway, Lithuania, and the UK. Most notably, GLMS also works with the Group of Copenhagen, which is the network of the Council of Europe that brings together 22 national platforms. These are national cooperation frameworks that unify all stakeholders at the national level.
What is the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competition and how is this relevant to the world lottery community?
The Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, or the Macolin Convention, is considered the world’s most comprehensive legal tool against match-fixing, as it provides states with a clear legal basis to fight against the phenomenon. It seeks to prevent, detect, investigate, and discipline the manipulation of sports competitions, as well as to enhance the exchange of information and the national, transnational, and international cooperation between the public authorities concerned, sports organizations, and sports betting operators. As of January 2019, 33 member states have signed the Convention, with three member states – Norway, Portugal and Ukraine – having ratified it. The Convention will enter into force as soon as five member states have ratified it. It is also of the utmost importance to highlight that the Convention is open to signatories of all countries across the world and not only in Europe.
Two of the strategic elements treated by the Convention are a definition of what illegal sports betting is and calls for concrete measures against illegal betting. The definition – outlined in article 3 par 5a of the Convention – connects illegality with the offer of bets without a license in the jurisdiction of the consumer. Article 11 of the Convention calls upon states to take enforcement measures, like IP blocking and payments blocking.
What can be done to get more lotteries around the globe to support the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competition?
It is very important for lotteries – GLMS, WLA, and EL Members – to use their best efforts to inform governments about the Convention and highlight the importance of its ratification. It is in the interest of lotteries and the lottery sector that the Convention enter into force as soon as possible.
From our side, we take every opportunity to inform our members about the importance of the Convention through each of our communication platforms.
For this purpose, GLMS is an associate partner of the Council of Europe’s project KCOOS+ (Keep Crime Out Of Sport). This project seeks to promote the Convention across the world and support states with the implementation of its provisions. The WLA and EL both have supporter status in the project as well. As part of the KCOOS+ project, the Council of Europe with the support of its partners will be organizing regional events across the globe to disseminate the basic provisions of the Convention. Throughout 2019 and 2020 there will be a series of regional seminars, in which GLMS, WLA, and EL members, depending on the region, will be invited to participate and provide competent input.
An important achievement of GLMS in 2018 was the signing of an agreement with the Council of Europe’s Group of Copenhagen. As the exclusive sports integrity body, GLMS has agreed to provide the Group of Copenhagen with alerts on suspicious betting patterns to enhance the quality of their logbook and of its development.
At the recent World Lottery Summit in Buenos Aires, you stated that the vision of GLMS is to become the most credible and respected entity worldwide in the fight against match fixing and a champion for the preservation of sports integrity around the globe. What has been the biggest challenge or challenges that GLMS has faced in this endeavor?
GLMS went through some challenging times in 2017. While lacking the necessary visibility, both within the lottery world and the general public, the involvement of members in monitoring activities was limited, as were the overall required administrative enhancements. At times the sports integrity field can be quite technical and its provisions can be challenging to convey and understand – this did not always help in the process of membership acquisition. At the same time, if we wished to be considered a real “global” sports integrity alliance with a solid intelligence system, local presence across the world was paramount for our global operations to gain credibility with key private and public stakeholders.
I am happy to say now that GLMS, over the whole of 2018, has been increasing its membership base – with additional individual and associate members having joined GLMS, enhancing the quality of its operations, and creating solid administrative and operational processes. We have also been working to ensure effective communication and visibility of GLMS activities, projects, achievements, and services. We are now a well-known and well-respected global integrity network, working with the most respected partners and stakeholders worldwide.
At the beginning of January 2018, we made our operations truly global with the launch of an operational hub in Hong Kong. This ensures us a strong local presence in Asia. Parallel to launching of the Hong Kong hub, we initiated the use of new monitoring system software, customized to fit the global requirements of GLMS.
In addition to the detection and monitoring of irregular betting patterns, GLMS has ambitiously set out to develop education and prevention programs, as well as tools to preserve the integrity of sports. Could you tell us something about this effort and how it will benefit GLMS members and the lottery/sports betting sector as a whole?
Spreading a culture of integrity has been one of our strategic priorities since 2017. Education and capacity building are key pillars of our strategy in our global fight against match-fixing – GLMS should not remain idle in this regard. Additionally, the Macolin Convention calls upon states and stakeholders to be active in disseminating information on relevant risks and encourages all stakeholders to organize educational initiatives and establish preventative measures.
We have designed tools for our members that can be used for the education of their employees and the local sports stakeholders within their jurisdictions. We have also been launching several communications initiatives, such as newsletters and monitoring reports, that feature the best practices of our members who are particularly active in this area in order that all members can be inspired by their initiatives.
GLMS is also ready to support its members with the development of a complete set of educational programs customized to fit their local needs as well as running educational workshops in their respective jurisdictions.
GLMS went live in 2015 with its first operational hub in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the beginning 2018, GLMS opened a second operational hub in Hong Kong. As GLMS continues to grow and expand its scope, where would you like to see the next operational hub opening?
Thanks to our two monitoring hubs and to the fully active engagement of our members across the globe, GLMS has adopted a so-called “glocal” approach, combining local intelligence gathering with a global reach. This gives us a significant advantage over any other sports integrity association – our integrity lottery alliance is truly unique.
An additional hub would no doubt further increase the efficiency of our intelligence network. This is another strategic priority of ours. We have been discussing with various members in North and South America about this opportunity. At the same time, with the legalization of sports betting in the U.S. well underway, we have been considering establishing a third hub in the U.S. at NASPL’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland, incidentally, is also where the FBI’s headquarters are located.
In May 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA, the federal law that essentially limited sports betting to four states (Montana, Oregon, Delaware, and Nevada) for the last 25 years. Sports betting is now becoming a reality across the U.S. The private betting industry wasted no time in establishing the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA), which was founded by executives from Caesars and MGM. Like GLMS, SWIMA was created to detect and discourage fraud and other illegal or unethical activity related to betting on sporting events. What advantages does GLMS have over SWIMA for U.S. lotteries seeking to establish a sports betting operation?
The repeal of PASPA has been a very positive development, in our opinion. GLMS in fact supports regulated, responsible, and sustainable betting market environments, since bans have often encouraged the proliferation of black market, criminal organizations, and match fixing. We believe that the original intent of prohibiting sports betting throughout the U.S. was to preserve the integrity of sports; but PASPA failed. It clearly had the opposite effect by creating a massive black market for sports betting.
GLMS has been following the development of the SWIMA closely. It needs to be pointed out that, unlike SWIMA, GLMS is a global network of licensed betting operators, spanning four continents – including North America.
As previously mentioned, the main difference between GLMS and SWIMA is the “glocal” approach. Given its global nature, competition manipulation cannot be addressed as a local, North American only phenomenon. An effective fight can only be secured through the collective responsibility and collective actions of a worldwide global network of alliances, such as GLMS.
Unlike commercial operators who compete against each other across the globe, lotteries in most cases, do not. This makes the cooperation among GLMS members remarkably effective. The integrity bond among our members is further strengthened by the active presence of our two monitoring hubs and a commonly shared, global, real-time intelligence platform. We have highly competent integrity data analysts operational in Hong Kong and Denmark and hopefully – very soon – we will have a hub operational in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 2018 GLMS established a Code of Conduct, which among other things, makes recommendations to lottery members concerning their sports betting operations. Can you elaborate on how the GLMS Code of Conduct can help member lotteries establish a responsible and sustainable sports betting operation?
Responsible and transparent operations are an absolute imperative for lotteries. The GLMS membership base unanimously adopted a Code of Conduct at its General Assembly in Buenos Aires on November 20, 2018.
The GLMS Code of Conduct on Sports Betting should be seen as complementary to the legal and regulatory requirements within each national jurisdiction. Among the main issues it addresses are: consumer protection; the protection of minors; responsible advertising; conflict of interest provisions for lotteries and their employees involved in sports events; odds compiling and trading; and obligation to report suspicious betting activities. These provisions are fully in line with those of the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.
What role can the world lottery community play in the fight against match fixing and the preservation of sports integrity, especially in the US where the sports betting industry is in its early stages?
As I said before, following the repeal of PASPA in May 2018 and the subsequent process of legalizing sports betting in the U.S., GLMS is looking forward to expanding its membership base with U.S. lotteries. This will help safeguard the credibility and transparency of lotteries’ sports betting operations – and as a result, of sports competitions – through their active participation in the GLMS global network.
U.S. lotteries should be encouraged to join GLMS and become part of this global lottery family. Through responsibility and solidarity, GLMS members join forces against corruption in sports – a significant public order and social threat.
It must be added that the GLMS Code of Conduct will also support lotteries in the US, as soon as they become members. This will give them a clear reference in regard to responsible and sustainable sports betting operations. Through GLMS, U.S. lotteries will also benefit from best practices successfully adopted by many lotteries around the world. They will become prominent partners with their regulators and policy makers, operating in the highest interest of American society.