Khalid Ali: Education and research at the heart of protecting integrity

Informing athletes through education and research will play a key role in eradicating match fixing and ensuring the integrity of sport is maintained according to the CEO of International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), Khalid Ali. 

Sharing his insight at last month’s Betting on Sports Conference, Ali emphasised that as well as research and education, monitoring platforms and advocating informed policy will continue to be pivotal tools in the fight against sports corruption. 

He stated: “Firstly it’s a monitoring and alert platform, that is the basis of the IBIA. That means we have an alert platform where all our members feed into if they see any suspicious activity. We then report that activity to the relevant sport and regulator.

“Another strand of our work is research and education. We’ve been funding a players/athletes programme for the last 10 years, making athletes aware of the do’s and don’ts of sports betting. We’re involved in five European Commission funded programs on match fixing and we’re also now increasingly looking at international projects, so that’s the second strand. 

“The third strand is advocating informed policy. Taxation rates, channelling, and licensing are now things that we are also looking at which means that when countries are beginning to open up, generally we will tend to put a consultation towards that without response and feedback about how we think that market should open based on an evidence approach.” 

Ali also provided some advice to operators that are looking to enter new markets as he discussed a number of the threats that are likely to be encountered during the process of expansion.

He added: “One of the top issues is sports betting and integrity. One of the key things I’ve seen over the last few years is how, especially regulators, are seeing this as a priority area and then need to have a solution to deal with this. 

“We all know that match fixing is cross-border and has a big international dimension so one of the things we are advocating is that as a requirement, if an operator is going to be licensed in a country, they should be part of an international monitoring network.”

As well as this, the CEO also discussed how operators could provide further support to the IBIA by enhancing their promotion of sports betting integrity.

Ali concluded: “One of the challenges we had was to get the message out to those operators that are not part of the association to become part of it. We are not for profit, so it shouldn’t make any difference how many members we have, but, from an integrity percentage we absolutely need the responsible regulated licensed operators all to be within this network

“This is because, this is a really big issue, it’s a big threat, it’s one of the top issues that regulators face when they’re opening up their market. It’s a big issue for sports, and it’s now increasing and becoming a big issue for betting operators, who are actually investing more into integrity.”