IBIA founds new Canadian athlete education program to protect sports integrity

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The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) has announced the formation of a new athlete education program designed to ensure integrity across sports in Canada.

Fronted by its member operators including bet365, Betway and FanDuel, the program will look to address the potential threat to athletes, sport and the regulated market from sports betting related match-fixing and fraud.

The funding partners have pledged to invest at least CA$300,000 ($219,820.50) into the program over three years, which will likely include face-to-face athlete training, an e-learning portal, anonymous reporting app and awareness raising material.

Jean-Francois Reymond, IBIA’s Education Ambassador and a former professional basketball player and VP of the World Players Association, explained: “Protecting the integrity of sport means protecting the integrity of athletes. Most often through a lack of awareness, it is the athletes who are risking their careers and livelihoods.

“Our objective is to build a best-in-class program for all athletes that serves to protect the integrity of Canadian sport and the careers of Canada’s athletes.”

IBIA is the largest operator-run betting integrity monitoring body in the world, with over 120 sports betting brands generating approximately CA$185bn ($137 bn) in total wagers placed per annum.

The not-for-profit association recently signed an agreement with the Brazilian Institute of Responsible Gaming (IBJR) to help protect the integrity of Brazilian sports as the country prepares to open up its regulated sports betting market, while its aim to expand its reach in North America was bolstered by the addition of US operator betPARX in March.

Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, said: “IBIA is delighted that our members, such as bet365, Betway and FanDuel, are so committed to sports betting education and are prepared to invest in such an important initiative. All of the partners are excited to see the positive impact this project will have on maintaining the integrity of Canadian sport and the players themselves. 

“For IBIA, sports integrity, and investing in the people that make sport happen, matters.”

The announcement on the athlete education program was made at the “Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport” taking place in Toronto, an event co-sponsored by IBIA, bet365, Betway and FanDuel.

It was launched in front of an audience including representatives of major Canadian and US sports, such as the CFL, CPL, Hockey Canada, NFL, NBA and NHL, alongside national and provincial governments and licensing and regulatory authorities, such as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).

Pertinently, the CFL recently announced its own new player-focused e-learning course, ‘CFL Match Manipulation Policy’, to ‘maintain the integrity of the league and protect against the increasing threats of match manipulation’.

Commenting on IBIA’s own program designed to empower athletes, Anthony Werkman, CEO of Betway, said: “Protecting the integrity of sport is key to what we do, so we’re delighted to be giving our commitment to working with our partners to fund and develop an effective athlete education program in Canada.

“As a global brand, we have a commitment to combating any form of betting corruption, both globally and locally, and we look forward to working with the other members to help shape a better future for both sports organizations and regulators.”

The project funding partners are in active discussions regarding a ‘delivery body’, with the intention to finalize it ‘in the coming weeks’. The program will then be rolled out over the second half of this year.

Dale Hooper, GM, FanDuel Canada, added: “Maintaining the integrity of sport is essential to players’ safety and enjoyment—the pillars of what we do at FanDuel. As a newly-regulated market, we are committed to supporting educational programs in Ontario that will help increase understanding and protections for athletes, bettors, and beyond.”