Washington, D.C. – As the United States nears 25 years with a federal law that has driven trillions of dollars in sports betting to the black market, experts from around the globe gathered at a standing-room-only event on Capitol Hill today to discuss the threat unregulated gambling poses to the integrity of professional and amateur sports. The event, “The World of Sports Betting and Safeguarding Sports Integrity,” highlighted how technology is used in regulated sports betting markets to detect nefarious behavior and featured luminaries such as the former CEO of the Liverpool Football Club and a former United Kingdom sports minister.
Led by Genius Sports Group, a technology company that monitors and identifies suspicious betting patterns, and the American Gaming Association (AGA), the trade group representing the casino gaming industry, experts from law enforcement, academia, professional sports leagues and government highlighted a broken federal law that encourages illicit activity and threatens the integrity of sports. Current law prohibits traditional sports betting outside of Nevada.
“The lack of data collection, information sharing and transparency in America’s massive illegal sports betting marketplace threatens the integrity of the sports we love,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “As multiple sports league commissioners have recommended, it’s time for a fresh look at our approach to sports betting and the unintended consequences of our federal prohibition.”
In the United Kingdom, the casino gaming industry, law enforcement and professional sports leagues collaborate in a legal, regulated environment to scrutinize betting on every game and match. Moreover, experts suggest that regulation has effectively eliminated a black sports betting marketplace in the United Kingdom.
“The event today was a huge success and credit to the AGA and its influence over the key stakeholders in the sector,” said Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports, a global leader in sports data technology based in the U.K. “It is clear from the direction of the conversation this morning that there is a desire for change from all key stakeholders both sports, leagues, and operators. Creating a transparent and cohesive framework is a clear opportunity which will benefit all parties and today's event was the perfect way to kick off the debate about how this is best achieved."
Read Freeman’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.
The briefing was composed of two panel discussions. The first focused on the illegal gambling market and public sentiment of sports betting law and featured Mark Mellman, president & CEO of The Mellman Group; J.B. Van Hollen, former Wisconsin attorney general; Dr. Jay Albanese, professor and criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University; and David Larkin, Esq., an expert on international sport law, media and anti-corruption.
The second session highlighted the ways in which big data technology can help to protect the integrity of sporting events and featured Locke with Genius Sports; Rick Parry, chair of the United Kingdom Sports Integrity Commission and former CEO of Liverpool FC; Alfredo Lorenzo, integrity and security director for La Liga; and Gerry Sutcliffe, former United Kingdom sports minister.
The event educated key congressional staff, policymakers and inside-the-Beltway media about the thriving, widespread illegal sports betting market, American attitudes towards sports betting, challenges for law enforcement and how other countries protect the integrity of sports through the use of data and partnership among stakeholders including law enforcement, the casino gaming industry and leagues.
Following months of study and deliberation, the AGA’s Board of Directors issued a set of recommendations in 2015 that marked a major shift in the industry’s approach to sports betting, which is currently illegal in all but four states. AGA is building a broad coalition that will determine whether a rational alternative to current sports betting law exists. Such an alternative could include strict regulation, rigorous consumer protections and robust tools for law enforcement to eliminate illegal sports betting and strengthen the integrity of games.
In a sign of sports betting’s increasing popularity, AGA estimated earlier this year that Americans wagered $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50 and $9.2 billion on March Madness. Additionally, AGA found that 80 percent of Super Bowl viewers want to change current sports betting law and that March Madness brackets boost tournament viewership by 21 percent.
About Genius Sports: Genius Sports is a world leader in sport data integrity protection helping sports governing bodies manage integrity concerns related to match fixing and betting-related corruption.
About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.