Matt Holt: providing a holistic view of sports betting

US Integrity’s Matt Holt provides an overview of the three-part certification program recently announced in collaboration with Ohio University’s AECOM Center for Sports Administration and Cyanna Education Services, and discusses the key points that will be focused on and taught. 

SBCA: How effective do you think this program will be and what key features do you think will help you achieve the goal of creating an ‘environment free from sports-betting corruption’?

MH: This program is an essential part of the larger strategy to combat sports betting-related fraud and corruption. At U.S. Integrity, we’ve developed a proprietary technology platform designed to continuously monitor and detect wagering abnormalities. We can identify potentially suspicious behavior by analyzing betting data, in conjunction with the misuse of insider information, notable player and coaching events and officiating abnormalities.  

That system is essential because it connects information about what is happening in sports betting and in sporting events. But the next steps after we provide that insight rely on a broad audience of people developing an understanding of sports gambling and why certain patterns or behaviors might be problematic. This program helps provide that understanding and context. 

SBCA: Can you provide a brief overview of the three points the program will focus on and how these will be taught – prevention, identification and reaction?

MH: Prevention, identification and reaction are three key aspects in sports gambling integrity monitoring. Staying prepared for challenges, being able to identify issues, and properly reacting to them is critical for the success of our industry. We teach these concepts through lectures and discussions with subject matter experts, introduction of key concepts and terms, sample case studies, and examining the considerations of all stakeholder groups involved: professional and collegiate teams and leagues, operators, regulators, and consumers. The end goal is to provide graduates of the program with actionable items they can implement at their own institutions. 

SBCA: It can be argued that there is already plenty of information available surrounding sports betting-fraud and the consequences that come as a result of it. What makes this program different and how sure can you be of its effectiveness in curbing sports betting corruption? 

MH: This program is designed to provide a broader education on the basics of sports gambling, including what constitutes fraud and corruption. The course will cover everything from the regulatory landscape to the influence of marketing in sports betting. We aim to provide a holistic view of sports betting so that participants come away from the course with the knowledge and confidence to make decisions in their own organization about the best methods to curb fraud and corruption.  

SBCA: What evidence is there to support the statement that ‘education and awareness are imperative steps in ensuring the successful maturation of the regulated sports wagering marketplace’?

MH: It’s very difficult to wage a battle against something you don’t understand. There is such a broad audience of people that could be affected or influenced in some way by sports betting, especially in the collegiate athletic space. Many of those people, from athletic trainers to marketing staff, may have very little exposure to gambling or sports wagering. At U.S. Integrity, we find that many of our clients have a basic understanding of sports betting and they are looking for information to help them become more knowledgeable about the industry and practical steps to help them more effectively identify and mitigate risks.

SBCA: What made Cyanna Education Services stand out in comparison to other developers? 

MH: Cyanna is a unique one-stop shop for all things education, traditional or otherwise. Cyanna was integral in assisting to help brand the project, developing the website, capturing and editing video and media, facilitating instructional design, and developing course materials. They also host the program on their proprietary platform EDlumina, and will manage the course once it is launched. Perhaps most importantly, they’ve proven themselves to be nimble in a time when online education is essential.

SBCA: What action will be undertaken if the course is undertaken and failed?

MH: This course is entirely optional. Participants can complete the work online and at their own pace. They can return to content to review and re-take any sections where they have difficulty or additional questions. There is no penalty for failing to complete the course. 

SBCA: With betting regulations still being approved in different states, how important is it to provide education over the sector whilst the country is still adapting to operators and sportsbooks?

MH: Legalized gambling has existed in the U.S. for quite some time. Sports betting has also been available in certain markets. As a result, many people have at least some familiarity with casinos, sportsbooks and gambling. However, with sports betting expanding across the entire country and each state developing their own regulatory structure, there is a lot to keep up with. The Sports Gambling Education program with U.S. Integrity and Ohio University is coming at a perfect time. This curriculum can provide a foundation of sports gambling and integrity information. The best time to focus on integrity and combating fraud is now – as operations are launching around the country. 

Later, as sports betting becomes more widespread, we will offer webinars and other updated courses for participants so they can stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry.