While Europe, with its extensive product offering, has formed an extensive lead in the global sports betting sector, Latin American jurisdictions are working to narrow that gap by establishing regulatory frameworks that promote business, as well as measures to protect sports.
In an exclusive interview with SBC Americas sister site SBCNoticias, Percy Wilman, Special Counsel LatAm at Genius Sports, discussed some of the ways in which integrity and transparency can be enshrined in regional sports.
Genius Sports, along with data providers Sportradar and Stats Perform, recently signed a second multi-league agreement with the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (European Leagues) to collect fast data live to offer the most accurate and reliable data services to their betting operator customers.
The European Leagues have chosen to proactively engage with the regulated betting industry. When it comes to Latin America, the challenge is to accept that betting is already happening on games and that sports are ready to reap the potential benefits: “Latin American sports can harness the increased fan engagement, transparency and revenue that the legalized betting industry can provide them,” said Wilman.
Football is the most popular betting sport in the world, thus the one targeted most by match-fixers and syndicates. According to the adviser, the biggest challenge is getting the leagues to proactively implement a robust integrity program.
“Many leagues and federations still fear that any form of engagement with the betting industry will increase the threat posed by betting-related corruption. This argument no longer holds weight and sports can’t afford to do nothing because once a match-fixing scandal breaks, it is often too late to recover,” he assured.
Genius Sports has been chosen by sports organizations in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Peru and Argentina. Leagues like the Superliga Argentina, Dimayor Colombia and the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation lead the way in LatAm by investing in long-term integrity strategies across multiple fronts.
They are reviewing and enhancing their entire operation including their rules around betting, systems for gathering intelligence and investigation procedures through a bespoke integrity audit.
The Bet Monitoring System from Genius Sports provides each of them with crucial visibility over global betting on their events and automatic alerts to any potentially suspicious activity. And to empower their players, officials and coaches, these leagues are launching new education programs to showcase the risks their members face and how they should report any approaches to manipulate games.
The industry is eager for the launch of a legal sports betting market in Brazil, not only for its size, but for the opportunities that it may offer. Genius Sports has already worked with GovRisk in a landmark summit that was attended by Brazilian government officials, but the company believes that it can keep cooperating through its Integrity Services, predominantly designed to protect the leagues and federations themselves.
“As Brazil moves towards a licensed framework for regulated sports betting, we are helping to showcase to key organizations like the Special Secretariat of Sports and the Brazilian Ministry of Economy how legalization can better protect sports from match-fixing and betting-related corruption,” Wilman revealed.
Moreover, he assured that sharing best practices from other regulated betting markets like the UK, demonstrating key market trends using data from the Bet Monitoring System and educating on the integrity threats offshore bookmakers can pose, Genius Sports can help to ensure integrity is put at the heart of new legislation.
“We have played a key role in Colombia and the United States’ recent moves to legalized sports betting, working closely with organizations such as Coljuegos, the American Gaming Association (AGA) and the leagues.”
“We are observing an encouraging trend that both LatAm sports and regulators are more receptive to engaging with legalized sports betting. For the leagues and federations, the key is following the example of Superliga and Dimayor in implementing advanced integrity programs,” he said, and added that regulators can impose a number of measures and licensing conditions to ensure their sports remain transparent and unpredictable.
“Licensed betting operators must be allowed to thrive over their offshore counterparts in a legalized market and therefore, regulators must not be too restrictive in either their tax framework or the markets they allow to be offered. However, regulators should also look to impose key integrity obligations on these licensed operators to ensure effective cooperation and information sharing with the sports,” he added.
“This can mean bookmakers having to cooperate with match-fixing investigations or creating integrity coalitions to identify and share betting trends and best practices.”