The question of additional regulation of data suppliers has again been raised this week with Stats Perform, Genius Sports Group and Sportradar all contributing to the conversation and being supportive of working to maintain and increase consistently high standards across the industry.
We have had interjections over the years by the Gambling Commission and its Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU). We have also had the recommendations of the Tennis Integrity Unit as part of their report published in April 2018 to empower them to prevent or restrict the provision of live sports data from lower level tennis events. But the idea of a standalone regulatory regime for this market has never previously been on the table.
The changes to the US sports betting landscape had already led to increased debate for an effective integrity ecosystem to sit alongside a newly regulated environment but interest has again piqued given the multitude of new sports and esports properties which have become popular during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
The sports data market is a notoriously complex one which continues to develop and innovate. Whilst the integrity of live sport is of fundamental importance, it would make sense for any kind of intervention to be proportionate and self-regulating. Industry best practice and carefully considered guidance would seem to be the way to go rather than further layers of regulation and licensing conditions supplementing the already thorough regulatory environment in many jurisdictions.
Sport, itself, also has a role to play. Whilst most of the primary sports properties sanction and approve the collection and distribution of live sports data, even greater collaboration between rights holders/governing bodies and their official data suppliers will undoubtedly improve integrity and the betting product.
There is no doubt that this debate will continue but the sports and betting industries and the various regulators and governing bodies will also have many other items on their to-do lists as we slowly welcome the return of European tier one football and other sports properties.