Interview: Andy Cunningham, Head of Integrity, Betfair
Andy Cunningham is Head of Integrity at Betfair and will be speaking at Sport & Gambling 2011, a conference taking place on 29 September at The Law Society in London. Andy will give a joint presentation on identifying suspicious betting patterns with Paul Scotney, Director of Integrity Services and Licensing at the British Horseracing Authority.
The conference is organised by World Sports Law Report and World Online Gambling Law Report. It will bring together key organisations from world sport to identify what gambling operators and sporting organisations can do to protect themselves against the possibility of corruption. The event is supported by Gold Sponsor DLA Piper and speakers include organisations such as:
• the British Gambling Commission;
• The International Association of Athletics Federations;
• French gambling regulator ARJEL;
• the Professional Players Federation;
• the British Horseracing Authority;
• Football DataCo;
• the British Sports Betting Integrity Panel;
• DLA Piper.
In this interview, Andy outlines his background before joining Betfair, gives his view on how the gambling industry’s relationship has changed in the seven years he has been at Betfair and discusses whether an organisation such as the World Anti-Doping Agency is needed to tackle corruption in sport.
WSLR: Tell us a bit about your background...
AC: I graduated from University and started in the financial accounting world, joining Betfair in 2003. I have been there ever since, joining the Integrity Team in late 2004. I have progressed to head that team, which I have been doing for the last year.
I have a team of seven people, whose remit is to monitor all of the transactions on Betfair’s site and to investigate any unusual or suspect betting patterns. We liaise with sports governing bodies, regulators and law enforcement agencies, as appropriate, to help them carry out betting related integrity investigations.
In 2010 I spent six months in the US working for TVG, which was purchased by Betfair at the start of 2009. The company is one of the largest legal online pari-mutuel horseracing betting operators in the US. Whilst working for them I spent time engaging with horseracing regulators and implementing betting integrity related systems and procedures for the US pari-mutuel horseracing industry.
WSLR: What are you hoping to get out of the event?
AC: Networking with regulators and sports, primarily. I am sure that people will be there from some of the sports with which we have MOUs [Memorandums of Understanding] and also some of the regulators that we liaise with. I am also looking forward to networking with some of the other interesting parties that will be there. It will also be interesting to find out people’s latest views on the issues within the presentations.
WSLR: What do you anticipate questions on?
AC: My presentation will focus on what my team does to determine whether a bet is suspicious and the process of investigation that follows from that. I will talk about our MOUs and how we liaise with sport, regulators and law enforcement agencies if required. It’s difficult to predict what I might get questions on.
WSLR: What have been the biggest changes in sport’s relationship with gambling that you have seen?
AC: There has been increased cooperation on integrity related issues since I joined Betfair. Our number of MOUs has increased since 2004 when I joined the team – we now have them with 48 sporting bodies worldwide. Sports recognise that if they sign an MOU it acts as a safeguard in the fight against corruption. Most of the time we never have to use a MOU, but it allows us to share information with the sport involved and carry out an effective investigation if there is a betting integrity related issue. There has also been increased understanding that when we are talking about corruption in betting and sport, there is a clear distinction between the legal market and the illegal market. Regulated online companies in the legal market - such as Betfair - go to great lengths to police integrity and liaise with sports. It is in our mutual interest with sport to do so.
A recent Sky Sports News match-fixing report interviewed 'fixing insiders' and any mention of betting was with reference to the illegal industry in Asia rather than from the legal industry, which is here to help. If somebody were to cheat with us, we will catch them.
There has also been increased cooperation on educational initiatives in sport. For example we work in partnership with the Professional Players Federation on educating players and Simon Taylor may well speak about our work in that area at Sport & Gambling. This is a very important topic.
WSLR: Do you think there will ever be an international ‘anti-corruption’ body regulating sport’s relationship with gambling, as WADA regulates sport’s relationship with drugs?
AC: To set up a WADA-type organisation to tackle corruption would be incredibly complex. Also, some sports have established effective integrity units which have excellent relationships with gambling operators. I do agree that an international mechanism to ease the cross-border sharing of information would help but there are legal challenges that need to be overcome in this respect.
WSLR: Can sport and gambling’s relationship be mutually beneficial?
AC: From an integrity perspective, I believe sport and gambling’s relationship is already mutually beneficial. As described above it is in our interest as a licensed betting operator to help keep sport free from corruption. Gambling and sport has always had a kind of symbiotic relationship and I think it will continue to do so.
Interview by: Andy Brown