A group of US sports betting operators has launched an organization dedicated to sports betting integrity.
The Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) is modeled on the European Sports Security Association (ESSA).
SWIMA will share information with ESSA in a joint effort to identify potential fraud that crosses international borders. And at the helm of the new association will be a former New Jersey gaming regulator.
Founding members of SWIMA
The founding members of SWIMA include Atlantic City casinos, casino brands and sportsbook brands:
- William Hill PLC
- FanDuel Group, part of Paddy Power Betfair PLC
- 888 Holdings PLC
- Bet365 Group Ltd.
- Golden Nugget Inc.
- Hard Rock International
- Resorts Casino Hotel
- Tropicana Atlantic City
Consumer protection is primary for SWIMA
From the press release, SWIMA explains its primary objective as consumer protection:
“With sports betting being legalized in more and more states, SWIMA’s principal goal is to protect consumers, operators and other stakeholders from potential fraud caused by the unfair manipulation of events on which betting is offered. Reaching this goal requires a multi-jurisdictional approach with operators in different states and tribal jurisdictions sharing information related to unusual or suspicious activity in their sports betting operations within and between different markets and, when appropriate, with gaming regulators and law enforcement.”
The organization plans to achieve its mission by partnering with “state and tribal gaming regulators; federal, state and tribal law enforcement; and other various stakeholders to detect and discourage fraud and other illegal or unethical activity related to betting on sporting events.”
SWIMA members will fully fund the organization, with no need for outside money from states, sports leagues or teams.
Former NJ regulator is SWIMA’s chief integrity officer
SWIMA will formally launch in 90 days, according to the press release. As is standard for a nonprofit, a board of trustees will run the organization.
Stephen Martino, MGM’s chief compliance officer, and Jan Jones, Caesars Entertainment executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility, will sit on the board of trustees.
The chief integrity officer will be George Rover, a former New Jersey assistant attorney general. Rover also used to be Deputy Director of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement.
“We are excited to roll out the first Integrity Monitoring Association in the United States, ensuring a safe and secure betting environment for consumers across the country. We look forward to partnering with gaming regulators and law enforcement in all states that legalize sports betting to undermine fraud and manipulation and protect the integrity of sports betting.”
SWIMA will be a clearinghouse for sharing fraud alerts
The potential for sports betting fraud exists across all stakeholders in the sports industry.
The sports betting operators, leagues and gaming regulators all conduct some level of fraud monitoring. Online sportsbooks like the eight operating in the NJ sports betting market, in particular, have much more information on punters than live casinos.
They can often see fraud almost as it happens.
Former regulator Kevin Mullally recently gave evidence to an Illinois legislative sports betting hearing. He said that regulators find it easier to monitor online gambling.
He compared the information a casino or slot parlor has about someone who walks in off the street with an online bettor. In the latter case, regulators can easily see where their money has come from, how old they are, how frequently they bet and so on.
SWIMA plans to allow member sportsbook operators from any state to submit information about suspicious wagers. As a central hub, SWIMA can then alert regulators in all states.
Rover told Reuters:
“The key is to ensure that sportsbook operators are able to connect.”
ESSA explains on its website that it acts as an early warning system “that highlights any suspicious betting activity.”
“The Early Warning System allows ESSA to work with the Sports Regulators and their disciplinary and legal department, ensuring that when an alert is given the regulator is informed immediately which may prevent the possibility of any game manipulation on a given event.”
This will be the first task that SWIMA will take on.
ESSA integrity platform is the model
The ESSA platform consists firstly of a set of standards which all members must adopt.
This then leads to a common process for identifying suspicious events. SWIMA will likely mirror ESSA with amendments to reflect the specifics of the US market.
ESSA’s standards include:
- “ESSA members know their customers and invest significant sums in sophisticated and robust risk management systems which detect suspicious activity in their markets.”
- “When a member identifies suspicious activity that cannot be explained, they raise an alert in the ESSA platform. All other members are then notified and must respond quickly and in detail indicating whether they also saw similar activity.”
- “ESSA’s Betting Integrity Officer then conducts a detailed review where a series of factors and data are analysed to establish if the activity is suspicious and warrants further reporting and investigation.”
- “ESSA’s monitoring and alert system utilizes important account level and transactional activity (such as customer location) — this is a fundamental difference between ESSA and many commercial monitoring systems, which primarily follow price movement activity and which lack the underlying consumer data so vital for effective investigative actions.”
- “ESSA maintains a policy of transparency and publishes quarterly integrity reports detailing the alerts reported by the association — no data is communicated which could hinder or impede related investigatory actions.”
ESSA also researches betting fraud and provides information to public consultations on gaming legislation.
SWIMA is likely to be a useful resource for states that look to regulate sports betting in the future.