CFL changes match-fixing policy to accommodate regulatory changes

Gambling regulations have changed dramatically across Canada, and particularly in Ontario, over the past year, and now the Canadian Football League is looking to revamp its match-fixing and corruption policies to reflect those changes.

At the Canadian Gaming Summit in June, a CFL representative said the league’s policies on these issues are extremely outdated and in need of a major overhaul. Players, officials, broadcast partners and team employees should also be made aware of identifiers and the risks associated with corruption and match manipulation.

A single CFL game can generate around $4 million in betting worldwide, according to Sportradar, a provider of sports data and betting integrity services. And Canadians are estimated to spend $10 billion a year via offshore sites and illegal sports betting operations controlled by organized crime, according to data from the Canadian Gaming Association.

Football, under official rules, has been played in Canada since the 1860s, but the CFL began its official existence in January 1958. And although the CFL has avoided a major match-fixing scandal so far, the revival of Interest in online sports betting across the country and around the world can put its players and the league at risk.

In 2012, a CBC report alleged that a Canadian Soccer League player took a bribe to fix a game in 2009. It was eventually revealed that the entire 12-team league was corrupt and that up to 42% of plays in the league that year were manipulated.

Match manipulation has been a problem in Canada in the past, and it will continue to be a concern in the future.

How the CFL is changing its policies

Prior to the legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada last August, the CFL had policies in place prohibiting betting on CFL games for staff, officials, players and anyone involved with the league.

“Now with legalization, we need to take it a step further and make sure we really educate them on what it means. Everything can be manipulated. You might accidentally tell your friends the color of Gatorade, or be the first person to take a penalty. We really need to put protective measures in place to make sure our players, officials, broadcast partners – everyone is aware of what match manipulation means and how it can seep into their lives,” said CFL Director of Football Eric Noivo to the crowd at the SCG in Toronto.

Noivo and other league executives are now seeking the advice of corruption and match-fixing experts to redevelop the league’s outdated policies.

“It’s an ever-evolving process for us,” Noivo said. “We want to make sure that we protect our athletes and the integrity of the game. Ultimately, that’s what we define ourselves by.

“Our constitution and bylaws go back to, we’re a league about 100 years old, so some of the language is a bit dated. It refers to not fraternizing with known players. When this was written 60 years ago or 80, it meant something very different than it does today Almost everyone I see here [in the audience] is a player known nowadays thanks to technology.

Ontario, which has a population of 15 million, launched its regulated online gaming and sports betting market on April 4. market. However, Ontario is the only province so far to adopt an open and legal gambling market, leaving the other six teams to continue playing at home in gray gambling markets.

“We will see how everything unfolds in the other provinces. We are putting in place protective measures for the league as a whole. Whether the threat exists in Ontario, Alberta or elsewhere, we need to protect all of our players from coast to coast,” said Noivo, who noted that mandatory training for players and staff on match manipulation is incorporated into the new collective agreement that was signed this spring.

The reality is that Canadians have already been betting illegally on the CFL and many other sports for decades online. Many teams are sponsored or partnered with gray sportsbooks, such as Bet99 (Montreal Alouettes) and BetRegal (Tiger-Cats/Winnipeg Blue Bombers). However, these two aforementioned sportsbooks are in the process of getting licensed in Ontario in the coming weeks and months. BetRegal is also the league’s official sportsbook partner, and it’s important to note that the sponsorship dollars from these sportsbooks inject much-needed money into the league, which is in a constant state of financial crisis.

Last December, the CFL partnered with Genius Sports to help revamp its data and technology. But the partnership comes at a huge cost for the CFL, as a tenth of the league’s revenue entity, CFL Ventures, is now owned by Genius Sports, which is tasked with finding ways to attract audiences, engage young fans and to help explore new sources of revenue for the CFL. One of these new sources of income is, of course, sports betting.

The CFL also relies on Genius Sports to monitor potential match fixing through its integrity monitoring technology to add another layer of protection, in addition to other major safeguards like the International Betting Integrity Association. However, the CFL relies on the transparency of its players regarding potential corruption.

“Athletes are going to be the first line of defense and they have to learn how to protect themselves,” Noivo said.

Noivo says the CFL is in the process of further developing its education platform for its players, but that “athletes have a duty to report and cooperate” if there is any suspicion of potential match manipulation. It’s not made official yet, but eventually there will be a league-wide policy that all nine teams will have to adhere to.

The majority of CFL players come directly from Canadian universities, and rosters are made up of mandatory portions of Canadian players. Noivo believes that the CFL, as the best football league in the country, has a responsibility to educate the entire football ecosystem in Canada about the risks of match-fixing and corruption, from the minor levels all the way up. university ranks.

Is the CFL really in danger?

Jeremy Luke is the Senior Director of Sport Integrity for the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport, a national not-for-profit organization based in Ottawa. The organization’s mandate is to investigate integrity-related issues and allegations of doping in Olympic sports and beyond.

“It is difficult to have precise data on the exact frequency of this [match manipulation] arrived. And the implications are probably just the tip of the iceberg. But some sports pose a higher risk than other sports, and those might be sports that are more easily manipulated. Look at tennis, for example, and the spot bets that can occur on individual points. In football, you can bet on who will have the first penalty or the first offside. Anything you can bet on can eventually be manipulated,” he said.

Another factor that determines whether or not a sport has a high risk of match manipulation is the players’ salaries. Luke says North American professional sports leagues that have higher salaries tend to be lower risk, but athletes in universities/colleges or lower level sports leagues are considered high risk.

CFL teams will be subject to a salary cap of just $5.35 million (CAD) in 2022, and the minimum player salary in 2023 will be $70,000 under the new collective bargaining agreement. Many CFL players have side jobs in the offseason to make ends meet.

One player who didn’t need a second job to make a living, however, was Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who recently admitted to playing NFL games despite having an estimated net worth of $11 million. of dollars.

Sports grips Brett Smiley investigated Ridley’s betting activity, and he discovered that Ridley had placed $3,900 in NFL bets (although Ridley said he only bet a total of $1,500 $) in November 2021. It was reported by a legal bookmaker in Florida and then reported to the Betting Integrity Branch. by Genius Sports. Ridley was then heavily sanctioned by the NFL for his actions.

Ridley’s story is a wake-up call for the CFL and other professional sports leagues around the world. However, the joint effort and communication between the regulatory parties in this case is applauded.

“As we move forward, the ultimate goal is to try to get to a place where there is consistency [match fixing/gambling] policy for sports organisations, then the stakeholders all understand how they can contribute to it. Whether you are a regulator, a sports body or a betting company, everyone understands this approach,” said Luke.

Luke’s organization supported the decision to approve betting on a single event in Canada and has worked closely with CGA President and CEO Paul Burns over the past two years to formulate a plan. aimed at maintaining the integrity of betting. Both Noivo and Luke sit on a sports betting integrity panel with the CGA.

Sports handle recently spoke with CFL legend Damon Allen about sports betting that could impact the integrity of CFL play, and the former quarterback was quick to dismiss the idea that players would throw games for purposes from Paris.

“Me, as a player, it’s something I would never do. It’s who I represent, the last name my parents gave me. Also, the integrity of sport and teammates for which you play. It’s something I would never think about, no matter how much money someone would give me to blow up a game. I would never do something like that. I’m not afraid of other players do that. It’s hard to do in football,” he said.

Allen played 23 seasons in the CFL from 1985 to 2007 and said he never suspected a teammate pitched a game or missed a game for betting purposes. Obviously, however, he hasn’t played in the era of mobile sports betting.

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