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Industry applauds SWIMA launch

| By iGB Editorial Team
First day of ICE Sports Betting USA also sees familiar arguments over integrity fees resurface

The new industry integrity association announced this week received a warm welcome from US regulators and suppliers at this week’s ICE Sports Betting USA event.

The Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) announced on Tuesday will see leading US operators including MGM and Caesars collaborate on sharing betting data and information on suspicious transactions with regulators and law enforcement bodies in regulating US states.

The organisation mirrors the operator-funded European Sports Security Association (ESSA) which sees over 20 leading operators work on the same basis. The new organisation will be headed by George Rover, former New Jersey attorney general and deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).

The current director at the NJDGE applauded the announcement. Speaking to the audience on Tuesday, David Rebuck said the formation of the group was a sign of how the market was developing.

“I embrace what they have done,” he said. “All the operators in NJ have agreed to it. Congratulations to the operators and we’re happy to work with other regulators to share information with them. We need to embrace technology to reduce the risk of match-fixing and fraud.”

Speaking on another panel, senior vice president, league governance and policy at the National Basketball Association (NBA) Dan Spillane, said that integrity is central to the leagues and their attitude to sports betting.

“We’re in a new world of sports betting, but that doesn’t change the mission,” he said. “We have spoken about the integrity elements of our commercial relationships.”

Andy Cunningham, director of global strategy, integrity services at Sportradar, said his company has been an advocate of utilising technology to provide a central hub for data capture.

“We’ve been advocating, (the creation of) a central hub with integrity power to spot trends, patterns and issues you otherwise wouldn’t be able to spot” he said. “That is something that is being discussed and something we have been pushing forward.”

The debate regarding a potential integrity fee also got an airing. While Khalid Ali, the chief executive at ESSA, suggested that an integrity fee was “not an effective model” – a point of view that is shared by many of the operators in the US – Spillane suggested that “active discussion” were ongoing.

“We have a package of things that we think need to be included in regulated gaming legislation,” he said. “We’ll be very active in the new year. And we’re working with MLB and PGA Tour.”

He added that federal legislation would be the NBA’s first choice on issues around integrity. “It would be a lot easier and cleaner for us. To ensure consistency across the states,” he said. “Maybe some activity in the coming year and maybe that will get some traction.”

Similarly backing the federal solution was Andy Levinson, senior vice president, tournament administration at the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour.

“We’re interested in a Federal solution,” he said. “We think the best solution for protecting the integrity is a central repository of information with all operators obliged to provide bettor level information. We want complete transparency and a holistic view.”

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