As Stephen Lee finds himself banned from professional snooker for 12 years – effectively a life ban, as he will be 50 when eligible to play again – the integrity body for licensed betting operators has come out in support of the snooker authorities.
The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) chairman Mike O’Kane commented that the organization: “fully supports tough sanctions against any player, official or other party that engages in corrupt activity designed to manipulate sporting events to defraud bookmakers and their customers.”
With online and mobile betting extremely popular in the UK, this can be seen as a message to any offenders: they will be dealt with. As any talk of a ban on in-play betting has been quashed by the Gambling Commission, O’Kane has also reiterated his support for the regulator, saying that: “any threat to sports betting integrity can be managed without the need to ban what is a very popular activity.”
With UK gambling laws due to undergo a revolution amid plans to introduce a point of consumption tax, this is a time for the betting authorities to band together and ensure the market remains open for players and closed for cheats. However, some sports are better than others at dealing with any problems, as O’Kane revealed.
“Unfortunately, some other sports are not as active in this area lacking effective rules and sanctions and with poor financial records, notably safeguarding players’ wages. Such poor governance issues are allowing fixers to infiltrate certain sports and that is an issue that needs to be addressed as matter of urgency.”
With breaking gambling news escaping the UK market every day, the changes afoot are set to rock the boat considerably. Whether the operators involved can steady the ship whilst remaining ever vigilant remains to be seen, but at least punters can be assured that everyone is rowing in the same direction.