Hungary Sports Writers takes up the fight against illegal betting
BUDAPEST, October 3, 2011 - Efforts to prevent global mechanism of corruption in sports, mostly in football reached another significant step on September 27,2011 in Hungary.
An international conference organized by Hungarian Sportswriters Association in Budapest welcomed high-profile sporting experts and raised questions such as how the credibility of sport can be protected.
The day long symposium covered a wide range of topics, relating not only to the sports betting industry but also to the possible threats to integrity upon professional sport.
An impressive list of speakers lined up for the event, including Gianni Merlo -AIPS President, Attila Czene-State Secretary of Sports of the Hungarian Government, former Olympic Champion swimmer-Dr. Kálmán Szentpétery, President and CEO of Hungarian National Lottery company (Szerencsejáték Zrt)- Antonio Costanzo.
Board member of ESSA (European Sport Security Association)-Andre Noel Chaker-lawyer and first advisor of the President of World Lottery Association, Iván Németh, Hungarian representative of Remote Gambling Association.
Equally important as the speakers, according to László Pajor-Gyulai, HSWA president and Dezso Dobor, AIPS Executive Committee member, the key organisers of the event, is the varied group of attendees which included representatives of football clubs, the betting industry and, of course, around hundred representatives of Hungarian sports media.
The conference was held at the home of Hungarian Television, where several aspects relating to match-fixing was on the agenda.
The experts had the opportunity to debate the organization of the world betting market, the legal framework governing the industry and explores ways in which the current situation can be improved.
"It would be a great mistake focusing on football only,"said Andre Noel Chaker, American football, cricket and other sports are infected as well.
Jacques Rogge, the IOC President had noted that the figure of 140 million dollars linked to betting
was a huge figure but according to the Anti-Crime Agency in Asia alone the volume of illegal betting is almost reaching 500 million dollars. The size of organized crime is just that, only in the network of Asia.
This the reason why Michel Platini, President of UEFA said some weeks ago the football is facing moral danger. What can we do about this? "We need to work together, especially with the members of media. Right now organized
crime sees that sports is an easy target, an easy prey, weak to defend itself. We must educate media as their role is critical."
"Strict governmental regulations are needed to control the market, said Dr. Kálmán Szentpétery. The current gambling law of Hungary was published exactly 20 years ago. It must be rewritten according to the challenges of our modern times focusing on the effects of the world of internet and online betting."
He listed all the different types of betting identified to date, pointing out that live betting now accounts for nearly half of all transactions.
"We are interested in clean sport,"he added. "But without collaboration of all parties involved real progress is not possible. Everyone has to contribute, especially media plays a very important role in getting along our messages."
Discussions emphasize importance of media.
"All journalists must follow this topic seriously as we are part of the game," commented Gianni Merlo
"But we must be independent, and we have to look at the threat of illegal betting in the proper way. To fight against corruption needs deep knowledge and that is why I am very happy that the Hungarian is the first national association to organize such a meeting understanding what AIPS proposed in January 2011 in Lausanne.
"This is not just the sports' problem, we are deeply involved as well, because if sports collapse around us, journalism will be destroyed also and we can easily loose our work. That is why we have a very strong motivation to fight against these dirty manipulations.
The fight with illegal betting can be dangerous, sometimes brutal for us, we might be threatened but we must be prepared enough to change or at least to help to change the situation. We are defending our dignity and our profession."
"ESSA is very much involved in protecting both, sport and the consumer," explained, Antonio Costanzo, board member of European Sport Security Association.
"ESSA is basically a technical tool. We have the opportunity of sharing all the information we have.but speed is extremely important. I one of our operators experiences something unusual, irregular in the betting volumes, within an hour all the operators have to respond the alert.
"This is our way in Europe, but we do not know what is going on in Asia which is a huge market. Most of the match fixing is going through the Asian market. What is the solution? Four pillar strategy of regulation, education, cooperation and sanction. Regulation is the base because without it there is nothing, no control, no sanction. The more regulations we have the easier to fight against criminals.
Education is difficult because if something is forbidden why to explain someone how it works. But education is key in the long run. Extensive cooperation is needed together with the strength of police. If police does not come into the picture we have no chance. "
Attila Czene, State Secretary of Sports of the Hungarian Government, highlighted the situation in EU. The European Union has yet to introduce any specific legislation on the issue of sports betting.
"There are no valid regulations applicable across Europe as a whole," observed Mr. Czene. "Member states are free to deal with the issue through their national legal systems. They are free to a great extent to regulate the betting market themselves, and to place restrictions on it. The cooperation between sports associations and governments is of crucial
importance," he declared.
With Europe-wide harmonization still some time away, the speakers' opined that the most effective option involves bringing national associations and betting industry stakeholders together to monitor the market on a joint basis.
Given the complexity of the situation, a great deal of time and effort also needs to be invested in order to eradicate the problem of illegal betting and match-fixing. In organizing this conference, however, Hungarian Sportswriters Association made a valuable contribution alerting the danger posed by illegal betting.