In the United Kingdom, some 53 football players from the nation’s top eight leagues were reportedly flagged to the Gambling Commission regulator in the 29 months after new rules were brought in to stamp out members of the sport from wagering on soccer.
According to a report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Gambling Commission’s new Sports Betting Intelligence Unit regulations were implemented in August of 2014 as an anti-corruption measure and prohibit anyone involved in soccer at any level in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, which includes players, managers and club officials, from placing bets on any aspect of the sport.
“This betting rule change to encompass all aspects of world football provides a simple, clear and straightforward message to all participants concerned on where the line is drawn,” Darren Bailey, Football Governance And Regulation Director for England’s Football Association, told the BBC.
Players could face serious sanctions if they are found to have wagered on football and one such case reported to the Gambling Commission reportedly involved Burnley midfielder Joey Barton, who received a one-match ban from the Scottish Football Association after he admitted to placing some 1,260 wagers over the previous decade. Other cases are said to have concerned Newcastle United midfielder Jack Colback, Kyle Lafferty from Norwich City and former Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis while Scottish League Two side Cowdenbeath recently suspended right-back Dean Brett after the 24-year-old admitted to betting against his own team.
However, the BBC reported that the 53 violations to December of 2016 primarily relate to uncorroborated reports rather than confirmed instances of rule breaches with the Gambling Commission allegedly looking into further infringements it is said to have identified through other intelligence work.
“It is the best the Gambling Commission can do within its regulatory embrace but it is the tip of an iceberg that stretches well beyond the horizons of the Gambling Commission,” former FIFA and Interpol adviser Chris Eaton told the BBC. “In the absence of a global regulatory model, only naive or careless players will be caught in a tiny national net that is swamped in the massive global web that is sportsbetting.”
Eaton explained that the reported Sports Betting Intelligence Unit breaches would primarily concern players that had used their own name or account and not those that may have wagered indirectly via a friend or utilized an illegal sportsbetting operation.
“We are really proud of the integrity of the game in this country and it is really important people trust what is happening on the pitch,” Alex Horne, the former General Secretary for the Football Association, told the BBC at the time the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit rules were implemented. “We want to keep our message as simple as possible and it can not be simpler than, as a player, you can not bet at all on football.”