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Rick Parry

Good on Rick Parry, the Chair of the group which looked at issues relating to integrity in sport commissioned by the then Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, for his comments published this morning. Clearly, he learned a heck of a lot about the issue in the meetings we had, fractious as they sometimes were.

I have pasted the article below:

Regulated Betting Blameless Says Sport Integrity Tsar

27 Sep, 2010 / Gambling Compliance Ltd

The head of the UK government’s expert panel on tackling betting corruption in sports said European bookmakers can’t be blamed for the cricket spot-fixing scandal, but warned that it would take cooperation from all sides to tackle the issues.

The former chief executive of Liverpool FC and head of the government’s report on sports betting integrity, Rick Parry, told delegates at C5’s International Gambling Law Summit in London that while there is “considerable scope for improvement” in the relationship between sports governing bodies and betting operators, the regulated betting industry was largely blameless for the scandals that had rocked cricket in recent weeks.

Parry noted that the recent cricket spot fixing scandal did not reflect on gambling operators, and said it may help to crystallise the debate on the creation of a specialist sports betting integrity unit within the Gambling Commission.

Speaking to delegates at the conference, he said that “beating” the gambling operators with greater regulation is not the answer and said that “regulated gambling is not where the risk lies for sporting integrity.”

He said: “In fact I think the interesting thing with the cricket case is that, as far as I can see, nobody placed a bet full stop.

“So it was actually nothing to do with betting and everything to do with breaches of sports rules.”

He added: “I am coming from a sport and governing body background, but equally I could see that constantly trying to beat licensed operators with greater regulation wasn’t really the answer.”

Parry’s report, which was published last February, called for the establishment of a specialist unit within the Gambling Commission to tackle sporting corruption.

Parry said: “There is a debate about what that unit should actually do in terms of gathering of intelligence, investigative powers, and the scope for governing bodies taking on the investigation as opposed to the specialist unit.

“I think the cricket case at the moment will bring that issue and many other issues into focus.”

His comments also highlighted the need for greater education of players in all sports on rules echoing those of football bosses earlier this month calling for greater betting guidance for UK players.

Still, he stressed the need for a “multi-agency approach” to tackle corruption in sport, while adding there is still much to be desired in the always difficult matter of cooperation between betting and sport sectors.

Parry said: “There is a need for tightening up memoranda of understanding, protocols and basically joined up thinking and working across every aspect of what we have talked about.”

Parry said that heading the government panel has left him “quite surprised at the level of antipathy between betting operators and governing bodies.”

The ex-Liverpool FC boss added: “A large part of that is of course because of the subtext…  the whole fair value and payment for rights issue which is never very far from the surface.

“With that constantly coming to the fore, it is probably no surprise that there is a bit of distance between the two parties.”

Another speaker at the conference, Khalid Ali who is secretary general of the European Sport Security Agency (ESSA), which represents bookmaker’s interests, pointed out they have completed over 20 memoranda of understanding between bookmakers and sporting authorities.

“It really depends on the sport in question,” he said on the level of cooperation.

“I think we have covered most of the major sports, and if we have issues I think they are confined to maybe two or three sports in particular.”

Khalid added: “A lot of the issues with sport betting are in illegal markets on the sub continent and Far East where we don’t have any way of tracking what is going on there, because there is a prohibition on gambling.”

“The prohibition creates a black market, black market creates a lack of transparency.”

Posted in Betting industry, Regulation.

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