Stakeholders large and small have banded together across the sports betting industry to create the first-ever integrity body specific to sports wagering in the US.
MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment are the biggest names involved in the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA), a new anti-fraud organization formed this week, but it also includes DraftKings, FanDuel, Hard Rock, Bet365, Golden Nugget, and 888 Holdings.
SWIMA will be led by George Rover, who’s been named Chief Integrity officer of the association. He’ll oversee day-to-day operations, while MGM’s chief compliance officer, Stephen Martino, will sit on the board of trustees.
“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,” Rover said in a statement announcing the group’s formation.
Rover’s legal background includes 26 years with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office — as both assistant AG and deputy director — followed by a brief stay as deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).
While taking shape in recent weeks, SWIMA took cues on how to best structure itself from the European Sport Security Association (ESSA).
It’s a group that has plenty of experience when it comes to match fixing.
ESSA was formed in the wake of one of the biggest betting scandals in modern history.
In 2005, German soccer referee Robert Hoyzer was caught taking bribes in exchange for influencing at least nine different matches. Hoyzer claims he was paid up to $85,000 per fixed match by the owner of a local betting shop.
The story is reminiscent of the Tim Donaghy scandal in the US, the former NBA referee who admitted to betting on games which he was officiating. After a US Supreme Court decision ended a federal ban on sports betting in May, Donaghy predicted that underground sports betting rings would continue to thrive.
A partnership between ESSA and SWIMA will see the two groups sharing information in a bid to ensure all games are being played with no angles.
Keeping It Clean
The US sports betting landscape is changing by the day with new partnerships and new laws, making this a “critical time” for the industry, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
AGA Vice President Sara Slane is throwing her support behind SWIMA, saying the key to success will be teamwork between federal, state, and local lawmakers.
“SWIMA will provide an important hub for all stakeholders to work together, further demonstrating the industry’s commitment to upholding integrity,” Slane said in a statement.
Part of that collaborative effort will include an early warning system used by ESSA. It will allow any networked sports book in the US to immediately alert state regulators to suspicious information or betting patterns that may arise.