Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Technology

Not that it's my usual style to comment on corporate stories, but the news which has been published on various blogs, and formally announced on the official website, of a deal which puts Betfair onto Samsung televisions, is one of the more exciting releases I have seen in a long time, and in my view a huge personal success for the amiable and extremely capable head of Betfair TV, Simon Miller.

The wider picture here, though - following on so soon after the equally exciting launch of Betfair's iPhone application, which was downloaded 20,000 times in the first month - is the same as I was making when I was interviewed the other day as part of the BBC's coverage from the Aegon Championships at Queen's. Asked by John Inverdale what should be done about people betting on laptops court-side, I commented that there is little point in dealing with any 'issues' perceived to be associated with betting by trying to hold back technology. It's far better to address them through transparency and co-operation.

On that track, I recently spent some time with a number of sporting Chief Executives, who gave up some of their time to come and understand how betting is tracked today. I think it is fair to say that they were wide-eyed about what they described as 'almost anti-terrorist style' means of tracking any problematic betting. We agreed that the biggest deterrent to malpractice is getting the message out there that the proliferation in online betting has tipped the risk/reward ratio dramatically in favour of risk, by virtue of the trackability, and not - as is commonly perceived - in favour of reward.

The more sports leaders who understand that, the better for all of us, because the message will be easily communicated to the players and officials (who are the only people who can genuinely impact the outcome of a sporting contest). I'm very encouraged that organisations like the Professional Players' Federation and the British Athletes' Commission are so willing to engage in the subject. It's good news for everyone - except the would-be corruptors.

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