Caesars, MGM Launch US Sports Betting Watchdog Group SWIMA

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MGM and Caesars continue their efforts to responsibly grow the legalized US sports betting market by announcing the creation of the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA).

The rapidly expanding United States sports betting market will soon have an industry-led anti-fraud watchdog group. On November 27, leading US casino-entertainment companies Caesars Entertainment International (CIE) and MGM Resorts International jointly announced the launching of the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA).

In a brief press release, leaders of the new group announced SWIMA’s objective is uniting industry interests from the business, regulatory, and enforcement segment, all with an eye to identifying and taking action against fraudulent sports betting activity in the nascent US legalized market.

The creation of a new anti-fraud association based in the US had been rumored for at least two months, after Sara Slane, executive vice president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), told ESPN: “The AGA has had productive discussions with our members and the leagues about the formation of an integrity monitoring association, which would provide an enhanced reporting system.” The AGA will also be part of SWIMA’s efforts in an as-yet-unannounced role.

SWIMA, still so new it has yet to roll out its online home, has two primary goals:

  • Providing a safe and secure betting environment for consumers in the legal markets in the United States; and
  • Protecting the integrity of sports betting and related activity by detecting bad actors and discouraging activities that profit from unfair betting markets.

“With sports betting being legalized in more and more states, SWIMA’s principal goal is to protect consumers, operators, and other stakeholders from potential fraud caused by the unfair manipulation of events on which betting is offered,” the press release added.

Europe’s ESSA serves as template

SWIMA will be modeled after the Europe Sport Security Association (ESSA), another operator-founded joint effort that has logged numerous successes in the European sports betting space. ESSA has offered its expertise and assistance during SWIMA’s initial launch. Once SWIMA is fully up to speed, the two organizations plan to share data freely to further anti-fraud efforts.

As with ESSA’s corporate-led framework, industry leaders will serve key roles in the stateside SWIMA association. Co-founding corporate members Caesars and MGM will each have one representative serving in a prominent role, including being members of SWIMA’s board of trustees. Caesars, executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility, Jan Jones, and MGM’s senior vice president and compliance officer, Stephen Martino, have been named. Jones and Martino are veterans of the US gambling scene and bring extensive skills to the SWIMA effort.

SWIMA also landed an experienced official to head the association’s day-to-day efforts. George Rover, former New Jersey attorney general and deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, will fill that role. Rover will also serve as the group’s chief integrity officer.

Rover said: “We are excited to roll out the first integrity monitoring association in the United States, ensuring a safe and secure betting environment for consumers across the country. We look forward to partnering with gaming regulators and law enforcement in all states that legalize sports betting to undermine fraud and manipulation and protect the integrity of sports betting.”

Further details about SWIMA’s internal structure and early organizational plans will be released soon. Other operators are expected to be announced as partners in the multifaceted effort, which plans to work with federal, state, and tribal law enforcement while coordinating its efforts with state and tribal regulatory bodies.

AGA applauds SWIMA launch

The AGA’s Slane offered a statement of support in conjunction with SWIMA’s launch announcement, underscoring the intent of SWIMA to be a US industry-wide effort.

She said: “The formation of the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association serves as another important milestone toward realizing the benefits of a legal, regulated sports betting market in the United States, which provides robust consumer protection, increased transparency and additional tax revenues for state and local governments.

“Today’s announcement comes at a critical time as dozens of states and sovereign tribal nations are poised to pursue legal sports betting in 2019. Moving forward, SWIMA will provide an important hub for all stakeholders to work together, further demonstrating the industry’s commitment to upholding integrity across all facets of a legal, regulated sports betting market.”

SWIMA will be based in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was New Jersey’s efforts in battling the US’s near-nationwide ban of sports betting that has quickly led to seven US states joining Nevada in legalizing sports-betting services for its residents. New Jersey has long announced its plans to be a leader in the growing US sports betting space.

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