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IOC President Calls for Sports Betting Regulation

1 March 2011 by admin

Jacques-Rogge_0Sports betting is problematic. Though a lucrative industry in which billions of dollars are bet worldwide, even many gambling proponents oppose it. Aside from the opposition you usually see to other forms of gambling, such as playing blackjack or poker, there is another tricky issue: corruption.

Sports fans are worried about the integrity of the games and sports betting can destroy that integrity. You don’t have to look hard for examples of how this can happen. College basketball point-shaving scandals, the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal and match fixing in boxing, soccer and other sports have given sports – and sports betting – a black eye. It is a legitimate problem. No one wants the outcome of sporting events decided by betters and corruption rather than honest competition. But how do you go about solving the problem?

In many cases, the opinion is that all sports betting should be banned. This is the stance of all of the major sports in America. Major League Baseball even banned Pete Rose from being in the Hall of Fame as a player because he allegedly bet on baseball games as a manager. There were never any allegations that Rose fixed games, but to MLB, the fact that he bet on baseball was enough for a lifetime ban from the game.

Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, has a different solution. He thinks that sports betting should be regulated by the government and overseen by a global watchdog. Rogge says that an international agency, similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency, needs to be created to monitor betting on sports, look for irregular activity and investigate potential corruption. He also believes that the agency should be able to tap phones, conduct surveillance and use other high-tech methods of detection.

Speaking before an anti-corruption summit at Interpol, Rogge said that betting organizations should have to be licensed by the government and there needs to be greater intergovernmental communication. The companies should be compelled to alert authorities to any irregular betting patterns. Mark Arbib, Australia’s Federal Sports Minister, said that “you need specialized officers that are actually doing the investigations because it is imperative you have officers who have relationships with the sporting bodies and working daily with them.”

More controversially, Rogge also called for revenue sharing between the betting organizations and the sports organizations. He said that sports organizers and leagues should “have a fair return for all their efforts for organizing the sport. They should be recognized with a return from financial income.” That revenue sharing would be used to help fund programs to stop match-fixing.

Sports organizations have long complained that betting companies profit off of them without paying anything for it. However, the sports books have long countered that by saying that they contribute to sports by marketing and paying broadcasting fees. As the talks on the topic progress, expect a heated debate on the so-called “betting rights.”

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