How The US Sports Betting Integrity Group Works Now That It’s Officially Launched

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sports betting integrity group

The Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) is officially operational.

And NJ sports betting operators are delegates to this multi-jurisdictional entity. The official launch date for this not-for-profit organization was April 18.

George Rover serves as the chief integrity officer for SWIMA. And he is no stranger to legalized gambling in New Jersey.

His ties to the Garden State include being the former assistant attorney general and deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

And in his new role, Rover and the rest of the SWIMA team have their eyes glued to sports betting.

Rover explained in a press release:

“We are eager and ready to assist all stakeholders involved in the sports betting market to ensure a safe and secure betting environment for consumers across the country.

“In partnership with gaming regulators and law enforcement officials, we are determined to help prevent fraudulent and manipulative behavior that could negatively affect the integrity of sporting event – something that does not occur with the widespread illegal sports betting market.”

SWIMA was months in the making

The official launch is the big news to come out of last week’s announcement. But the concept is several months in the making.

It was back in November when the integrity group was first announced. And it’s also the first of its kind in the United States.

Rover handles the day-to-day operations. The board of trustees to this multi-jurisdictional entity also includes:

  • Stephen Martino, senior vice president and chief compliance officer for MGM Resorts International. He is the former chief gaming regulator in Maryland and Kansas.
  • Jan Jones, executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility for Caesars. She is the former mayor of Las Vegas.

Finding the common denominator

Rover spoke with Play NJ in more detail about SWIMA.

States offering (or in the process of offering) legal sports betting have specific rules and regulations that operators must follow. But integrity is a common denominator they all share.

When the organization was coming together, Rover took the time to explain the concept. And while it wasn’t completely organized at the time, lining up support was not hard to do.

“They immediately recognized the importance of it and wanted to be part of it.”

While this is the first-of-its-kind in the states, the idea, Rover said, “is modeled” after ESSA. The European version monitors and shares information on suspicious betting patterns across markets.

And knowing regulators personally, it’s a win-win across the board for Rover and SWIMA.

Sports betting operators + SWIMA membership

The New Jersey sports betting market consists of 10 retail and 13 mobile operators after just nine months in operation. And more are expected to launch this year.

Judging by the Garden State membership alone, it’s clear all parties are liking what SWIMA plans to offer.

The membership includes several NJ mobile sportsbooks:

Bet365 and Unibet are onboard before their respective platforms even launch. Both have land-based partnerships with Hard Rock Atlantic City, but the target launch date is sometime in 2019.

Atlantic City casinos that offer sports betting are all represented, too.

Rover said that operators who want to come aboard must reach out to him. The parties discuss how SWIMA operates and he provides the membership info.

“It was their independent decision to join,” Rover said.

But as far as the strong response goes, Rover shared a list of reasons:

  • Operators are aware that assisting in any attempt to protect the integrity of sports betting activity is key to their business.
  • Many are familiar with ESSA in Europe.
  • Many operators know Rover by reputation.
  • SWIMA is not-for-profit and therefore operates efficiently.
  • The group has the support of NJ and other state regulators.

Rover notes sports betting operators minimal annual cost to be part of SWIMA. And there is no fee for regulators such as the DGE.

How SWIMA operates

SWIMA is fully funded by its members across the US, not just New Jersey. It means funding is not required from taxpayers, governments, or sports leagues.

And the basic premise behind the system is simple.

SWIMA works with the sportsbook operators, risk management professionals, and gaming regulators to identify unusual activity. If something happens once, it’s likely not going to trigger the integrity alarms. But if and when something does happen and continues to happen, regulators and sports betting operators will be able to address it via this forum.

In effect, SWIMA allows sportsbook operators to share information easily across jurisdictions to better protect the industry as well as the integrity of the sports they bet on.

Eight states currently offer legalized sports betting. And several more are on the horizon including Iowa and Montana.

Having the watchful eyes of SWIMA is only going to help as more states join the legal sports betting world.

“It’s really going to be a game changer for the purpose of accessing betting activity in sports,” Rover said. “This is one piece to the puzzle.”

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Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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