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Sport should know better

It’s a real shame, but not entirely surprising, to see that some people in sport are using the Pakistan betting allegations for their own political ends. it’s the usual suspects, but that makes it no less depressing.

A piece in today’s Times says that National Governing Bodies are calling for government intervention, citing French legislation that effectively outlaws Betfair as being the way forward.

It is abundantly clear, even to the myriad of callers to today’s Five Live phone-in, that the problem here resides in illegal betting. Indeed, the Times piece even says so, in its final paragraph.

So, where is the logic in ‘government intervention’ in a way that outlaws the most transparent betting there is – and one which doesn’t even offer the sort of betting which people claim to be so prevalent (such as no ball betting, which I can’t find offered by a single UK-licensed bookmaker; and the old chestnut of ‘how many players will be wearing sunglasses’, which might have been offered once by Sporting Index in the early 90s).

The National Governing Bodies of sport have been lobbying government for years to get a levy from betting, to deal with ‘integrity issues’. This basically translates as ‘we want money, and we think this is an easy way to get it’. Tim Lambe says today that ‘a portion of bookmakers’ revenues could be spent on combatting corruption in sport’. In other words, “I’ve failed on this one for years, but let’s have another crack while we’re on a subject which sounds plausibly to the uninitiated like it might help my cause”.

Would some journalist please ask him how extracting a levy from the legal bookmaking industry, acknowledged to be not in any way involved in this kind of alleged scandal, is fair or even helpful, and scrutinise his answer?

If HM Customs called for a levy on Boots to stop the importation of cocaine, people would not only laugh, but tell HM Customs to get on with their job of fighting an issue which exists irrespective of the legal sale of drugs online and on the High Street. And yet in sport, people are allowed to get away with this sort of wooly thinking, and call for things which have no impact whatsoever, without anyone questioning them.

Surely it’s time we saw leaders of sport dealing with issues, rather than pushing agendas? You and your associates have got a job to do, Tim, and it’s a job that is entirely independent of the legal betting market which you want to give you money for nothing. Get on and do it.

Posted in Betfair, Betting industry.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Fixing match fixing « Riding the ripple linked to this post on August 31, 2010

    […] My old boss likes to use a tidy analogy on the subject; that blaming the gambling industry for corruption in sport is a bit like holding Boots (the chemist) responsible for the illegal trade in cocaine. I think he makes a very good point. […]

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