Building the Integrity Standards of the Future

Andrii Nekrutov, Chief Integrity Officer at BETER, talks about the challenges that come with integrity and how the latest technologies can help providers eradicate match-fixing in the coming years. 

Integrity must be the foundation for any live betting activity, whether that be on traditional sports or esports. Whether its global sporting events or in-house products run by content providers like BETER, there is no difference in the approach that must be taken to ensure high integrity standards.

Offering odds and betting experiences with integrity is the only way to build trust with players and, for providers, their operator partners, too. That’s why it’s important to take a zero-tolerance approach to integrity breaches and for providers to have an effective integrity lifecycle in place.

This is the only way to give operators the confidence they need to integrate live content into their sportsbooks and casinos, and for them to be able to pass this confidence on to players that they are wagering on events that are fair.

The standards that traditional sports and esports athletes must meet is exactly the same, across every discipline. But given the emerging nature of esports and esports betting, there’s a lot of educational work required to help athletes understand the importance of integrity.

This is not only to protect their reputation but also that of the esport they play and the league or federation that runs it.

Professional esports players are now considered in the same light as superstar football players, so they need to be aware of and understand the responsibility that comes with this. This is not only regarding their reputation but also in terms of meeting sporting codes and local laws.

Education of athletes, both for traditional sports and esports, needs to be combined with a comprehensive integrity policy and cutting-edge technologies to complete the integrity lifecycle. The human factor is also critical to spotting and flagging suspicious player behaviour and betting activity.

At BETER, we have developed an education program that combines technology and the human touch – one that we believe should serve as a template for the industry more broadly.

All athletes that work with us must pass through our e-learning program and undertake interviews with our integrity team before being allowed to participate in our events.

Our program is run via an in-house developed platform that can be accessed from desktop or mobile. We have also developed our own reporting system, with our supervisory team completing an online reporting form whenever they spot suspicious activity.

This report is then sent to our database in real-time, and an investigation into the activity is undertaken. This includes a polygraph interview with the athlete plus a follow-up interview with an integrity manager.

We also have a whistle-blowing platform that athletes can use to report any approaches they may be subject to. Additionally, we test our athletes through a deployed realistic simulation program “Integrity BOOTCAMP”  with a member of the team contacting them using a range of scenarios and technologies in the same way that a fraudster would.

This includes sending social media messages,”cold calls”, off line meetings  asking them to fix matches in return for payments. In this instance, they should report the contact via our proprietary whistle-blowing platform and then also report it to one of our integrity managers or tournament organisers.

We have run this test with more than 400 athletes and 99% of them reported the contact, as they had been trained to do via our e-learning program. Again, this is a great example of how we are using the latest technologies and the human touch to deploy our integrity lifecycle.

It is my belief that the most effective way to prevent match-fixing is through the latest technologies and proactive education, which is why we developed our eLearning program. It is mandatory for all athletes and is multi-language and multi-platform.

It has proved to be hugely effective at driving awareness around match-fixing and the consequences that athletes face if they decide to engage in this sort of activity – not only in terms of damage to their reputation and that of the sport they play, but also in terms of engaging with criminals.

But there is only so much that BETER can do, and I’d like to see much better cooperation between all stakeholders when it comes to match-fixing and the sharing of intelligence and data. Content providers, operators, regulators and law enforcement must work together to combat this.

It would be great to see cohesive requirements for preventing match-fixing being rolled out across all markets so that content providers and operators have clearly defined standards to work to. This is an area where we will see progress, and one where BETER is keen to play a proactive role.

We have the technologies to eradicate match-fixing, especially when combined with a solid integrity policy, athlete education and a team of experts to oversee the entire lifecycle. Integrity is crucial to sports and betting, and setting a standard and template like we have at BETER is a key step for all stakeholders investing in the future health and longevity of sports, esports and betting.

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