Thursday, 4 February 2010


Khalid Ali, secretary general of ESSA, has said in response to the news that Ladbrokes has become the first bookmaker with both an on- and off-line presence to sign up to his organisation that: “We would urge all operators in the industry, online and off-line to work with ESSA.”

I saw Mike O'Kane of Ladbrokes at a dinner on Monday and he told me the news about Ladbrokes joining.

I said to Mike that Betfair would far rather be part of an industry-wide organisation which works to combat corruption in sport; but that we will only become part of a wider group if the requirements placed on its members are not diluted to enable it to embrace a larger number of operators. In other words, if ESSA's Early Warning System shares information with sport on the same basis as our MOUs, which includes allowing sport real-time access to bets and to information on the people behind them, then we'd be delighted to be involved.

If, on the other hand, it only allows a sub-section of that to happen, because many of those signed up to it don't want to give up customer details if corruption is suspected, then we won't, because we believe that betting volumes tell you very little and the identity of those placing bets is key. We don't want to endorse any system which claims to uphold integrity if in reality it doesn't use every means available to do so.

I agreed to meet with Mike to find out exactly what ESSA offers sport these days, because if its bar is set at the highest level, we will gladly get involved. But when we spoke to them in the past, we felt that they were setting the bar lower than we believe it is possible to get it.

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