A Technological Response to Concerns Raised by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus has had a very public back-and-forth with both the NCAA and the NFL about its sports betting policies and missteps. Headlines and barbs aside, industry veteran Bruce Merati (l.) argues that the crux of the conversation is integrity, and the use of up-and-coming technology could help tremendously on that front.

A Technological Response to Concerns Raised by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus

The integrity of sports is a cornerstone of its appeal, offering fans the assurance that the games they cherish are played on a level playing field, free from external influence.

However, recent concerns raised by a lawmaker underscore the need for more robust measures to protect the sanctity of sports from the growing influence of the sports wagering industry. While completely eliminating illicit activities is difficult, it is imperative to have effective solutions in place to both deter and swiftly detect any such activities, ensuring the integrity of sports remains paramount.

This article presents a technological solution aimed at addressing these concerns while fostering collaboration among stakeholders and safeguarding the integrity of the games we love.

On June 15th, U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., issued a call to action, directing her concerns towards the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA. Her letter implored these organizations to clarify their betting policies and urged a stronger commitment to ensuring that sports remain impervious to external influence.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the NFL offered a detailed response but did not address specific questions about league personnel and investigations into betting violations.

The NFL’s response also urged federal officials to address the “illicit sports betting market,” though the reported violations involving players happened at regulated sportsbooks.  Titus deemed the response insufficient, and said in a statement, “It’s very disappointing that the NFL has declined to answer our questions and instead pivoted to illegal sports betting generally in their response. It makes one wonder what they are trying to hide.”

To ensure the integrity of sports, leagues face inherent challenges that limit their ability to maintain absolute control. True sports integrity can only be achieved through the wholehearted cooperation of all stakeholders involved, from the leagues and sportsbook operators to regulatory bodies. Similar to the securities industry, which has established a comprehensive regulatory framework coupled with vigilant monitoring and surveillance to curb insider trading, the sports wagering sector needs to embark on a similar path.

After all, a sports bet is a futures contract not that different from those traded on the Chicago Board. Presently, the sports wagering landscape remains fragmented, and are offered on operator-by-operator and state-by-state basis. It’s imperative to bridge these gaps and establish a cohesive solution that safeguards the integrity of the business which encompasses not only preventing insider betting but also addressing issues like money laundering and match-fixing, which also undermine the core principles of integrity.

Given the volume of transactions and the expansive landscape of sports wagers spanning across the country, the call for embracing the potential of blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) technology becomes not only apparent but absolutely essential.

The sheer scale and complexity of modern sports wagering, spanning a multitude of events and involving a myriad of participants, makes it nearly impossible for traditional methods to adequately monitor and detect anomalies that might indicate potential integrity breaches. This is where the prowess of new technology steps in, offering the ability to swiftly process and analyze colossal volumes of data, uncover hidden patterns, and provide timely alerts that can pinpoint irregularities.

To address Rep. Titus’ concerns, the sports wagering industry can embrace a proactive approach through the implementation of the Sports Wagering Integrity Technology Application (SWITA). This surveillance solution marries cutting-edge technologies, stakeholder collaboration and data-driven analysis to safeguard the integrity of sports and mitigate potential external influences.

The solution needs collaboration by all stakeholders, sports teams, leagues, sportsbooks, regulators and law enforcement agencies, through a secure and private network. It would use AI as its backbone to analyze wagers to identify unusual betting patterns, wagering volumes and other anomalies. This vigilance allows early detection of suspicious activities, enabling rapid intervention. By pooling data from across the nation, SWITA acts as an integrity monitoring association, to empower stakeholders to report and investigate irregularities promptly and could serve as a portal allowing operators to securely input details of notable large and suspicious wagering activities.

Employing encryption technology, the platform ensures the confidentiality of private and sensitive information. Additionally, through the integration of AI-driven algorithms, SWITA can alert regulatory bodies with suspicious activities for further investigations.

The use of encryption and blockchain technology guarantees the security and privacy of sensitive data shared on the platform. This groundbreaking combination ensures that stakeholders can share information without compromising confidentiality.  The AI-driven algorithms can also be designed to identify potential money laundering and match-fixing patterns. This includes identifying coordinated bets from different individuals on opposing sides of an event placed on different books or states to cover their risks as well as large wagers that correlate with a suspicious play or a referee’s call.

The platform can scrutinize and flag large and suspicious wagers and maintain a roster of individuals categorized as “insiders” such as players, coaches, team personnel, and any other stakeholders who possess the potential to exploit their privileged information for personal gain. By leveraging the portal’s capabilities for robust surveillance and monitoring, the industry can take a substantial stride towards preventing fraud and misuse of confidential information. Such an approach emulates the proactive measures taken by the securities industry to detect and deter insider trading, ultimately bolstering the trust and credibility that underpins the sports wagering ecosystem.

As concerns regarding the influence of sports wagering on the integrity of sports grow, it is imperative to adopt a holistic and proactive approach. The technological prowess of SWITA can serve as a solution to unite stakeholders in a common mission to preserve the purity of sports. By addressing sports integrity concerns through advanced technology, collaboration and data-driven vigilance, the sports wagering industry can reassure fans that their favorite games remain a bastion of fairness, free from undue external influences. The onus is on the industry to demonstrate its commitment to sports integrity and uphold the trust placed in it by fans and athletes alike.

Articles by Author: Bruce Merati

Bruce Merati is cofounder of BC Technologies, a sportsbook system provider and CEO of Uplay1, a gaming IP company.