Sports Betting Integrity

EPFL welcomes French Government and European Parliament initiatives and call on other EU Member States and the European Commission to take similar action.

The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) welcomed the adoption, by the European Parliament, yesterday, of the Report on “Integrity of Online Gambling” originally presented by the Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose (also known as the ‘s chaldemose Report�).
 
The approved Report includes several important provisions related to sports, including the necessary recognition of the ‘s port organisers right� concept, to avoid any unauthorized commercial use of the Leagues’ and other competitions organisers’ Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) by betting operators.

In particular, the Schaldemose Report acknowledges that “sports bets are a form of commercial exploitation of sporting competitions” and explicitly recommends that “Member States protect sporting competitions from any unauthorized commercial use, notably by recognition of a sport organiser right”, and put in place “arrangements to ensure fair financial returns for the benefit of all levels of professional and amateur sport”.

The European Parliament’s Report represents an outstanding step forward to enable port bodies to protect the integrity of its competitions and further develop the Leagues’ business model, concerns which have always been placed very high in EPFL’s agenda.

On a similar initiative, the French Government presented last Thursday, 05 March 2009, a draft Bill on online gambling and betting, which was also welcomed by the EPFL. This draft bill, which was awaited with great expectation, proposes strong measures to protect the integrity of sports competition and ensures a fair financial return to sport from betting activities. The main provisions of this draft bill are:

  • Online sports betting in France will be permitted but subject to a new licensing and regulatory regime;
  • A clear property right means there will need to be a direct agreement between sports event organisers and any betting operator seeking to take bets on that event;
  • Sports organizations will be involved in the decision as to what type of bets are to be allowed on their events. Restrictions will be placed on the type of bets allowed where integrity risk are considered unacceptable;
  • The French Government to take action against unlicensed and unlawful online operators who seek to offer unauthorized bets; and
  • Grassroots sport to benefit from a 1% turnover levy on all sport bets, which will be channeled through the national centre for sports development (CNDS).

On the occasion, Frédéric Thiriez, President of the French Professional Football League and Deputy Chairman of the EPFL, stated: “By recognising the rights owned by the competition organisers, this draft bill respects the moral and financial interests that French Football defends together with the other EPFL member Leagues and the whole European sport movement.”

The EPFL believes that the unlawful use of sports betting affects football’s positive image and credibility, driving away fans, sponsors, media and investors, and undermines its own economic viability. “As the common voice of the European Leagues, the EPFL is strongly committed  to use all its power and influence to ensure that the integrity of our Leagues’ competitions is fully preserved and guarantee a fair financial return to all levels of the sport”, assured the EPFL’s CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, urging the other EU Member States and the European Commission to follow the footsteps of the French Government and the European Parliament.

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