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Stats Perform backs IBIA call for global betting standard, says bet manipulation ‘harms industry’

FC Minsk v FC Dinamo-Minsk during the Belarus Championship on March 28, 2020 (Photo by SERGEI GAPON/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Betting Integrity Association is calling for all companies operating in the sports betting data supply chain to develop a set of global best practice standards for the industry, warning that the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for robust data guidelines.

The issue has come to prominence during the Covid-19 lockdown as data suppliers have sought to fill empty sportsbooks by offering betting markets on lower-level football leagues in less heavily regulated countries.

Sports betting data supplier Stats Perform has called for the data supply industry to be regulated by an independent body in response to recent cases of betting manipulation.

Betting watchdog, the IBIA, whose members include many of the world’s largest regulated betting operators, has now pronounced on the issue. It says a set of standards developed by different data suppliers would be the most effective means to protect the integrity of sport, the betting markets generated by industry data and end-consumers.

IBIA chief executive Khalid Ali said: “Upholding the reliability and credibility of sporting event data is of paramount importance for my members and the challenges posed by the pandemic have further highlighted the necessity for robust data chains.

“There is a clear benefit for everyone involved in the data supply chain in ensuring that such data is a product of high levels of accuracy and transparency.”

The IBIA’s calls were welcomed by Stats Perform, which said it would work with the organisation to develop the new standards.

Andrew Ashenden, chief betting officer for the data supplier said: “Data integrity issues, wherever they originate, are harmful for the industry and we are looking forward to contributing our expertise via the IBIA and its members on the development of global best practice.

“We have always maintained that collaboration in this space across sporting federations, governing bodies, third party integrity providers, regulators, operators and data suppliers is vital.”

Ali added that the IBIA and its members had been considering a set of best practice standards internally for some time and called for there to be ‘a proper industry-wide debate’.

“To that end, IBIA is asking all stakeholders, notably data providers, to proactively engage with the association and its members to develop and implement agreed best practice standards around the sale, collation and distribution of sports data for betting,” he said.

The IBIA’s calls also appeared to be welcomed by other data and integrity suppliers.

Sportradar told Gaming Intelligence: “Protecting the integrity of live sport is our utmost priority. We are supportive of measures that would ensure consistently high standards across the industry in the ongoing fight against match fixing.

“We already meet licensing requirements that apply to data suppliers in jurisdictions where such measures exist and we are open to the development of a set of standards that could apply more widely.”

Genius Sports’ chief executive Mark Locke echoed these sentiments in quotes reported by the same publication.

“Genius Sports would of course welcome greater transparency and co-operation in the sports data industry to ensure operators and consumers are protected,” he said.

“We believe that sports need to be included in the conversation, and our long-held view is that the safest way to collect and verify data is where the sports have sanctioned and approved that collection and distribution.”

In early April, Genius Sports, together with the Ukrainian FA, issued a warning that a series of ‘friendlies’ featuring lower-league Ukrainian clubs were subject to match fixing.

There was some disagreement at the time about whether the fixtures actually happened, with the Ukrainian FA describing them as “ghost matches” which couldn’t have taken place because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Ghost matches are games that are faked with data and created to defraud bookmakers.