Another Story Missed by Scottish Football Media
While one of UEFA’s main worries for the game is match fixing & obviously the betting on those matches, the majority owner & director of Celtic FC, Dermot Desmond, is also the owner of Betdaq, an online betting exchange, which was recently declared a ‘Rogue Operator’ by Australian authorities. Given the SFA’s recent push for greater scrutiny regarding the ‘Fit & Proper’ ownership of clubs, it is surprising nothing has been done to create a Register of Interests/Ownership of Owners, Shareholders & directors to highlight conflicts of interests. We’ve just had the destruction of Rangers by Craig Whyte while the SFA/SPL stood by and did nothing when they knew of his background. Persons or companies owning our clubs need to be beyond reproach. There is a potential conflict of interest for the SFA/SPL & UEFA of a person owning a major club participating in their competitions while his betting company is running a book on their games. As for Scottish journalists being the agents of discovery and highlighting such conflicts of interests then don’t hold your breath. Will it even cause a ripple on the self censorship covering Scottish football media?
Under the wikipedia entry for Dermot Desmond: ‘International Investment & Underwriting (IIU) was founded in 1995 by Dermot Desmond. It is a private equity firm and the primary investment vehicle for Desmond….Companies that are controlled through IIU include BETDAQ (an international betting exchange)’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermot_Desmond
‘The company was founded in 2000 by leading Irish businessman Dermot Desmond and started trading in September 2001. Its headquarters are located in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin, and it employs about 100 people.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BETDAQ
Dermot Desmond was of course the creator of the IFSC, tax haven within the Irish Tax haven and centre of several large financial disasters due to lax regulation. See my previous post: https://footballtaxhavens.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/dermot-desmonds-contribution-to-the-gfc/
It seems strange that a Betting company is based in Financial centre controlled by a finance company but then it is Ireland & given the ‘light’, nod & wink, regulation applied by the Irish authorities in it’s financial industry which contributed to the Parmalat, Bear Stearns & Depfa/Hypo Real Estate financial disasters, it would be expected that it’s gambling regulation would be non existent. Dublin is part of the financial industry ‘Wild West’.
And how are Betdaq’s bonafides, again from same Wikipedia link above:
1. ‘In 2003, BETDAQ did not sign up to an agreement with the Jockey Club that granted the Jockey Club access to the company’s customer records.’
2. ‘In May 2006, the launch of Better, a bookmaking company that offered cash betting terminals (allowing punters to back or lay selections without having to register personal or bank details) linked to BETDAQ, caused controversy, with commentators and commercial rivals observing that this move by BETDAQ into untraceable cash opened the door for criminal corruption in racing.’
So Betdaq’s ‘track’ record in Horse Racing doesn’t look good as far as transparency to the sporting authorities which need access to view betting amounts, patterns and bettor/related party details.
Betdaq Declared a Rogue Operator
From The Australian’s Patrick Smith, July 16th 2011 article, Rogue operators make battle to maintain integrity of sport more difficult:
‘Betdaq, a reputable and significant player in European sports wagering, has been forced to shut down its operations on Australian race meetings and sports following an exposure by The Australian. It has been a short but hardly sweet foray into wagering on this country’s sports.’
‘The Australian, through a series of reports this week, was able to show that it was possible for Australians to wager bets, effectively, anonymously and of significant amount, through the internet with Betdaq, an Irish private company.’
‘The Weekend Australian could find no evidence that Betdaq sought to gain a licence with any sport in this country, therefore it was operating illegally. While there is no suggestion that Betdaq, which began its racing operations in Australia only days ago, had any intention to defraud anybody, it was a rogue operator because, without a licence with the sports it ran markets on, it could not be monitored.’
‘The brouhaha began when reporters from The Australian secretly opened an online account with Betdaq, which is not a licensed partner of the Australian Football League, National Rugby League or any of Australia’s horse racing bodies. The Australian claims that their ability to open a Betdaq account makes a mockery of the recent agreement between national sports associations and the government to police the integrity of Aussie sports.’ http://calvinayre.com/2011/07/15/business/betdaq-exits-australian-market-following-media-investigation/
It seems incredible that an online betting exchange like Betdaq, would try to operate illegally in such a large sports betting market like Australia, with millions being bet every week on Horse Racing, Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Cricket & Soccer[Football or colloquially known as Wog ball] without a licence & points to a culture of evading compliance with reporting requirements to sporting authorities.
Match Fixing in Europe
According to Fifpro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, in their Black Book Eastern Europe, a players survey they reported that:
a. ‘Match fixing 11.9% of respondents are saying that they have been approached to consider fixing the result of a match and more than twice of them (23.6%) are also aware of match fixing that took place in their league.’
b. ‘Match fixing 34.3% respondent in Kazakhstan has been approached to consider fixing the result of a match, in Greece almost every third player (30.3%). Almost half of the respondents from Russia (43.5%) are aware of match fixing in their league.’
No doubt the match fixing was happening in conjunction with betting especially online where the bet can be spread over many websites at the last minute using anonymous accounts. How can football authorities & the police have any chance of tracing corruption without ALL betting companies giving online access to specialised pattern analysing software? As Betdaq has shown, they don’t want to give this access.
UEFA Stance Against Match Fixing
“The fight against match-fixing and corruption is certainly the top priority for UEFA, the UEFA President and the UEFA Executive Committee in the years to come,” said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino. “It is our job to protect football, it is our responsibility to do what we can against corruption, to fight against this cancer that we have to eradicate from football.
“It is obvious that if the fans and children have the impression that the result of a match is known before the match starts, then this clearly affects the soul of football or any other sport,” he added. “To be able to efficiently fight against match-fixing, we are committed to doing everything we can – but we also need the help of the law enforcement agencies and authorities. We need to work hand in hand, we have to act very strongly and in a united way.”
“Match-fixing jeopardises the integrity of the competitions, damages the social, educational and cultural values reflected by sports, and jeopardises the economic role of sports,” said Pierre Cornu, UEFA’s chief counsel for integrity and regulatory affairs. “The risks are increasing,” he continued, citing, among other things, the dynamic development of the betting market to incorporate such elements as online gambling, in addition to the involvement of highly organised criminal organisations looking to make huge financial killings.
‘Moreover, UEFA has established a 24-hour betting fraud detection system (BFDS) which monitors matches across Europe, including all UEFA competition fixtures, as well as all first and second division and national cup games throughout its 53 member associations. Education sessions are also held by UEFA at European youth final tournaments to warn young players in particular of the risks of match-fixing.
The seminar also heard that UEFA’s actions against match-fixing included support to the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe, and cooperation with international bodies such as Interpol and Europol, as well as betting operators and other sports organisations.’
Within the UEFA administration, the disciplinary services unit undertakes the key role of monitoring matches with the aim of eliminating match-fixing. Matches in the top two divisions and domestic cup competition in all 53 national associations, as well as all matches organised by UEFA, are analysed using a Betting Fraud Detection System (BFDS). http://www.uefa.com/uefa/footballfirst/matchorganisation/disciplinary/index.html
The question is ‘Does UEFA’s BFDS have access to the online betting exchanges like Betdaq. If it doesn’t then how can it establish if match fixing, fraud is occurring?.’
PFA Scotland Launch Gambling Awareness Campaign
When they are not launching spurious lawsuits against Rangers without the knowledge of the parties concerned they run courses for players on gambling awareness. Jack Ross said: ‘The protection of player welfare is of paramount importance to a players union and therefore PFA Scotland is committed to providing its members with continued information on issues which could impact upon their career development. This commitment is reflected in areas such as post career guidance, Mental Health support and Gambling Awareness and we are pleased to announce an expansion in the area of Gambling awareness education.’
No conflict of interest seen from the PFA Scotland that Celtic’s owner runs an online betting company when they are warning of the temptation?
SFA Silence on Potential Conflict of Interest
Of course the SFA is silent. With William Hill being the sponsor of the Scottish Cup they cannot exactly come down hard on gambling being connected to football. We also have on the SFA’s Professional Games Board, Dermot Desmond’s right hand man, Peter Lawwell and Celtic’s Eric Riley on the SPL board. So both major footballing authorities are compromised [we knew that anyway] but they cannot discuss that we have a major club owner also having a betting company running a book on his own club’s participation in the SFA/SPL & UEFA competitions. And a betting company that seems averse to disclosure & hidden behind a financial company in Dublin’s IFSC ‘Wild West’. What does UEFA say that one of it’s member nations & clubs operating in their highest competition has such a potential conflict? Do the SFA/SPL and PFA Scotland have anything of concern to say on this potential conflict of interest to our ‘beautiful’ game? The game should be above suspicion after the FIFA marketing [ISL] & bribe scandals.
At least UEFA has the Betting Fraud Detection System [BFDS], even though we don’t know if it has access to Betdaq’s data. The SFA doesn’t appear to have any procedures & systems for tracking betting on football matches. Perhaps they can ask William Hill or Peter Lawwell if some of Dermot’s people at Betdaq would advise them on what they would like to hide from disclosure, like Betdaq’s experience with the Jockey Club & Australian authorities, then the SFA, to get a working system, can just implement the opposite.