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US sports betting: ‘integrity starts with the education of all participants’

| By Stephen Carter | Reading Time: 3 minutes
LaLiga’s integrity and security director Alfredo Lorenzo shares his experiences of overseeing the integrity policy for Spain’s professional football league.

As part of an interview series featuring speakers from November’s inaugural Sports Betting USA conference, LaLiga’s integrity and security director Alfredo Lorenzo shares his experiences of overseeing the integrity policy for the Spanish Professional Football League with Clarion Gaming’s head of content, Ewa Bakun.

iGaming Business: What is your view on sports betting and what kind of relationships do you have with the sports betting companies?
Alfredo Lorenzo: The sports betting sector is very fast growing and we work with these companies because sports integrity is important for everyone. An important element in LaLiga’s integrity program is the relationship with betting companies and the exchange of knowledge and information. As a sports organisation, we are still seeking further commitments from the betting sector when it comes to reporting irregular betting patterns to the authorities.

iGB: How do you ensure the integrity of your games while allowing betting on their outcomes?
AL: Betting is a legal activity in many European countries, including Spain. There are some restrictions such as those on betting by players and referees. The safeguarding of integrity starts with the education of all participants in our competitions – including players – on regulation, banned behaviours and their potential consequences via integrity workshops, making them aware that match-fixing is a criminal offence. We also monitor betting markets on matches and to investigate and report when necessary to the relevant authorities. Since 2013, LaLiga’s integrity program is taking care of each and every aspect of this protective framework.

iGB: What should sports governing bodies such as those in the USA that are currently exploring the potential of regulated sports betting be paying most attention to?
AL: Protection of integrity must be 360 degree and sports organisations such as ours must educate and give accurate information to all participants in our competitions regarding national regulations as they apply to betting. We have to monitor all competitions and investigate and report all cases of alleged infringement.

iGB: What are the commercial benefits of sports betting and how does LaLiga take advantage of them? Do you have direct commercial relationships with sports betting companies?
AL: Betting companies invest in sports as sponsors or buying airtime around football coverage or other advertising elements. LaLiga also has a sponsor from the betting sector, Sportium (Ladbrokes Coral Group), which is highly committed to match integrity and supports and collaborates with LaLiga on safeguarding this.

iGB: How does legalised sports betting impact on fan engagement and sports viewership?
AL: Sports betting must be regulated, this is of upmost importance. Regulated betting gives fans the opportunity to place bets in a safe environment and the national regulator the tools to properly supervise the activities of betting companies and investigate potential cases of misconduct or betting-related match-fixing.

iGB: Do you have any specific internal regulations which define your staff's interactions with betting products and companies?
AL: Yes. We have rules similar to those which apply to insider trading on the stock market.

iGB: What are your expectations and objectives for the Sports Betting USA conference in New York at which you’re speaking in November?
AL: I hope to explain the main provisions of LaLiga’s integrity program and to share our experiences of dealing with these issues with sports organizations, the betting industry, regulators and fans.

Alfredo Lorenzo is the integrity and security director of LaLiga, the Spanish Professional Football League. Following university, Alfredo spent 18 years in the national police, becoming head of the national football information point, with responsibility for the security of the national football team, international information exchange and coordination of match commanders. In January 2015, he was approached to set up the security department at La Liga, and in June he was appointed to deal with integrity matters. The department oversees the implementation of the integrity policy in professional football as well as the fight against corruption, match-fixing and illegal betting.

Alfredo will be speaking on the panel “Sports Integrity: Exploring the interplay between sports betting regulation and sports integrity – experiences from regulated vs. non-regulated markets” at the inaugural Sports Betting USA conference, taking place in NYC from 14-15 November.

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