The recent string of suspicious betting pattern alarms in British and international sporting events has again focused attention on the British government's determination to stamp out cheating and corruption in sports across the gambling board.
Gerry Sutcliffe, the government's sports minister, told The Guardian newspaper this week that he wanted no stone left unturned in the fight against corruption in sport, and to that end is close to finalising a high-level task force to discuss pressing issues around sport and gambling. Senior figures from sports governing bodies, bookmakers, the police, the law and the Gambling Commission will all be consulted to come up with new proposals to fight corruption.
The task force will be expected to discuss a range of issues, including whether there is more that can be done to improve communication and collaboration between sports, bookmakers, police and regulators. Improving the education of young players and changing the gambling culture within some sports is also likely to be on the agenda, reports the Guardian. The experts will be expected to agree on an action plan that can be presented to the government, which will decide how to proceed.
"Betting corruption is one of the major issues threatening sport today, and I want to make sure we're doing all we can to stamp it out," Sutcliffe said. "We need to be sure that all parties – from sports governing bodies to players themselves – have tough rules in place and understand what is and isn't acceptable.
"The panel of experts I am going to assemble will challenge one another on how betting integrity is being upheld and assess the current system to ensure it is as robust as possible. I want to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the fight against corruption in sport."
Bookmakers have pointed out that the recent spate of cheating incidents demonstrate their commitment to flagging up suspicious betting patterns and tackling corruption. The 2005 Gambling Act introduced a new offence of cheating at gambling.
The new body will discuss the wider implications of the need to invest more in policing corruption in sport on a national and international level. Some senior figures in the sports world believe the fight against match-fixing is a bigger challenge than the fight against doping, and needs to be taken as seriously.
Last October, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, David Collier, wrote to Sutcliffe on behalf of cricket, football, rugby league, rugby union and tennis to ask him to consider issues around sporting integrity as a matter of urgency.
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