On 18 December 2014 the UK Government launched a national, cross-departmental Anti-Corruption plan (“Plan”), which sets out a strategic response to corruption based on four key components: prosecuting and disrupting those engaged in corruption (“Pursue”); preventing people from engaging in corruption (“Prevent”); increasing protection against corruption (“Protect”); and reducing the impact of corruption where it takes place (“Prepare”).The Plan acknowledges that match-fixing and related corruption in sport negatively affect the reputation and commercial viability of not only the sport in question but also the sports betting business, producing an inevitable knock-on effect on the social, political and economic benefits derived from sport and sports betting.
Consequently, three specific actions have been identified to tackle corruption in, and protect the integrity of, sport and sports betting:
- The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) is to set out, by March 2015, the measures that the UK is taking to combat corruption in sport. This will involve the consideration of on-going international initiatives such as the European Union Work Plan For Sport (2014-2017) (which was adopted earlier this year and identified match-fixing as one of the workstrands to protect the integrity of sport), the policy communication “Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling” (which contains a range of actions aimed at safeguarding the integrity of sport) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions;
- The Gambling Commission and DCMS will work together to implement a Sports Betting Integrity Action Plan (“Integrity Plan”) to prevent and deter those that corrupt sporting events and/or utilise sports betting mechanisms to derive criminal profits. The Integrity Plan will prioritise the Gambling Commission’s development of public and private sector intelligence capabilities and enhancing the effectiveness of operation responses; and
- The Gambling Commission’s improved reporting mechanism for sports corruption (a facility developed in conjunction with the police and Crimestoppers to ensure that reports are dealt with more effectively) will contribute to the Home Office’s proposed single reporting mechanism.
Ultimately, the Plan focusses on drawing together the recommendations from existing national and international reports and strategies, laying the foundations for DCMS and the Gambling Commission to produce a cohesive and effective set of protective and preventative measures to combat the increasingly prevalent issue of corruption in sport.
The full Plan can be found here.