One of the questions that always arises when sports betting comes up in the U.S. is can the games be compromised? Even though the Black Sox scandal was almost 100 years ago and game fixing stories are few and far between, the protection of data in a hack induced world is what keeps teams and leagues up nights worrying about that day when the wagering spigot gets turned on in the U.S.
Some sports in the U.S., especially MLB and recently the PGA Tour, have already started to strengthen that data integrity pipeline, with recent deals with UK Based Genius Sports and Monday the soccer world got a glimpse of how such data protection will be ramped up even further; this time in a place where gambling on sport is both legal and a part of the sports culture.
Football DataCo, the official data rights holder of all the professional soccer leagues in England and Scotland, announced a landmark integrity agreement with Genius Sports and Perform Group.
The Genius Sports and Perform partnership is the first time that two global leaders in sports data and technology have joined forces to protect the integrity of sport. It will enable all the professional league and cup competitions in England and Scotland to benefit from two highly sophisticated bet monitoring systems identifying unusual or potentially suspicious patterns occurring in global betting markets, for over 5,000 football matches per season.
“To be truly effective, any strategy against the growing threats of match-fixing and betting-related corruption must incorporate three key elements: technology, education and intelligence. We are delighted to be extending our partnership with Football DataCo to deliver these key components and provide a greater level of protection to the integrity of English and Scottish football than ever before,” said Steven Burton, Managing Director of Genius Sports in a statement.
While Adrian Ford, General Manager of Football DataCo, added: “Ensuring the highest standards of integrity is a key priority for both English and Scottish Leagues and Football Associations. Harnessing the strengths of Genius Sports and Perform and focusing on intelligence led information will support efforts to protect the integrity of British football.”
This technology will monitor all odds movements across 14 different competitions in English and Scottish football. This includes not just the core Premier League, EFL, and Scottish Professional Football League matches but also the English and Scottish FA Cups and steps 1-4 in the English National League.
Genius Sports and Perform Group will also work together to deliver a series of educational workshops aimed at arming players, officials and league and club executives with the knowledge to identify and avoid match-fixing’s growing threat.
Now what does this have to do with sport in the U.S.? Well not much right now, but lots down the road, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the State of New Jersey in December and opens the door for legalized gambling across the country at some point down the line. The fact that there is a better roadmap in a highly gambling trafficked sport like soccer sets a great benchmark for what can be done by U.S. sports leagues, working with two companies like Perform and Genius Sport, that have boots on the ground in the States now as well.
Keeping game and match fixing a thing of the past is the most important hurdle to clear amongst politicians and fans alike, and the path seems to be clear on how to do it.