Following his re-election as GLMS President, SBC Leaders spoke with Ludovico Calvi about his plans for the organisation, challenges to overcome as well as what is being done to ensure that sporting competitions remain free of crime.
The Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) reelected Lottomatica’s Ludovico Calvi as its President during its online General Assembly in June, marking his third term as President. It has been a transformative time for lotteries during his tenure, especially over the past year with lotteries learning to survive and prosper in a COVID world while also helping good causes.
SBC: Congratulations on being re-elected for a third term as GLMS’ President. What has been a key highlight during your tenure so far?
LC: Thank you very much. I am delighted and privileged to have been appointed President of GLMS for a third consecutive term after two very exciting mandates during which we have been able to review the GLMS organisation effectively, invest in human and technical resources, draw new, transparent and more effective processes and governance, and implement new and more efficient statutes which will allow GLMS to grow a diversified membership base involving new strategic sport integrity stakeholders.
We have also been able to strengthen relations with key public and private stakeholders worldwide, define and implement a new communication strategy, and engage and increase our membership base effectively.
SBC: What are your plans for GLMS between now and 2023?
LC: We have set very solid foundations to drive the success of our association in the titanic fight against match fixing and to protect sports integrity worldwide. Our strategic drivers are fully focusing on safeguarding GLMS growth while aiming at accomplishing our Vision and Mission of investing resources in communication, education and operations; market learning and adjusting to new challenges improving GLMS perception among existing members, and strengthening key stakeholder relations.
SBC: What challenges are you expecting to face during your third term?
LC: The phenomenon of match-fixing is one of the main problems facing the world of global sport and legalised betting. Some believe that the manipulation of sports competition results is the natural negative evolution of sport since the economic implications linked to the development of legalised sports betting became part of the ecosystem and it is a price to pay. I do not agree and there’s evidence to confirm my opinion on the subject.
We have concrete and solid indications that the legalisation of sports betting in many countries has averted the proliferation of black markets, criminal organisations and therefore match-fixing. GLMS has always supported regulated, responsible and sustainable betting market environments since bans have often favoured sport corruption.
Unfortunately, the evidence of relatively young aged athletes being corrupted is consistent. This negative phenomenon originates from a lack of awareness and the absence of a culture of sport integrity among young athletes. On top of that, the temptation of making easy money without getting caught, given the limited visibility of some low-profile sports events, have been encouraging factors and is at the base of the proliferation of cases among young professional athletes.
SBC: What would you say is the most important lesson learnt by lotteries during the COVID-19 pandemic?
LC: As President of GLMS, I have observed an extremely busy period during the last 18 months with the detection and analyses of several irregular and suspicious betting activities.
GLMS Integrity Hubs in Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Montreal together with members and partners have never been so busy in fighting the phenomena of ghost matches and match-fixing. During the last 18 months, there have been cases of matches that never took place, but they were promoted on the web with the only objective to generate frauds against the public and betting operators.
Criminal organisations have been very active since the outbreak of Covid-19 seizing any opportunity – even a health crisis – to further their illicit activities and therefore GLMS has increased the level of vigilance and intelligence monitoring and will do more so in the future.
Further threats will come from a weaker sport ecosystem, given that the financial crisis has hit several sport organisations globally at all levels, and this, in turn, could potentially increase the level of vulnerability of several sport stakeholders and athletes.
The world of sport after Covid-19 will be certainly with more unknowns and fewer certainties vs the past, in particular with regards to the level of revenues generated by sports clubs and the need to offset the losses with drastic cost-cutting measures.
This scenario will inevitably create conditions for fraudsters to exploit weaknesses and take advantage of this moment of vulnerability of the system in the “new normal”.
We must work together as a Global Sport Integrity Community actively involving key public and private stakeholders while continuing to be vigilant and protect the safeguarding measures put in place to guarantee the legality and shield athletes and consumers across the globe.
SBC: Have there been any particular jurisdictions which the industry should focus its attention on? Brazil or the US for example?
LC: The Brazilian Ministry of the Economy has been very active in the last few years on the regulatory front and the market, despite the outbreak of the pandemic, is eager to see through the legalisation process of several gaming verticals.
At federal and state levels, Brazilian public authorities are evaluating different gaming bills, including a proposal to exclusively regulate casino resorts in tourist destinations, instant lottery products, in addition to sports betting, bingo games and video slots.
The introduction of a sustainable gaming regulatory framework would bring in precious investments to the Brazilian market due to its enormous potential and, above all, legalise all gaming activities, which currently operate outside of the scope of the law and could generate valuable revenues for the federal and local state governments.
Another important market, in my opinion, is Canada, where single-event sports wagering, after almost 10 years and two attempts by political parties, is about to be legal. This is a major opportunity for several B2b and B2C gaming operators. The market is significant especially in provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia.
In Canada, black-market bookmakers and offshore websites have had a monopoly on single-event sports betting and igaming for a long time and this is a great opportunity for public authorities, licensed gaming organisations to regulate the sport betting market effectively while safeguarding consumer protection and generating valuable revenues for provincial and federal governments.
A legal and sustainable Canadian sports wagering market environment will also provide a much-anticipated financial boost to professional leagues through partnerships with gaming operators while selling precious sports data gathered through their matches.
As for the US, more than half of the states have now legalised sports betting, the majority of which offer mobile and online sports betting alternatives. Internet casino gaming is legal and available in five states. Even if the market is fragmented due to the different state regulatory frameworks, there are jurisdictions where the regulatory provisions have created sustainable market environments and despite the pandemic, the figures are very encouraging.
Unfortunately, there are also US states where policymakers and regulators have been unable to create sustainable regulatory and fiscal conditions, and the sport betting market has turned out to be not attractive for both consumers and gaming operators, who will no doubt choose to turn away from an opportunity deemed economically non-viable. In these cases, the black market and offshore operators are likely to continue to expand their businesses outside unfettered by integrity measures and standards of consumer protection.
SBC: Can you tell us more about GLMS’ efforts to ensure that sporting competitions remain free of crime? What are the challenges involved in staying one step ahead of those that threaten the integrity of sport?
LC: GLMS’ strategic approach against sports corruption through a multi-stakeholder, multi-jurisdiction policy with integrity monitoring hubs and active sports lotteries trading floors across the globe is paying off. To manage real-time data flows effectively, GLMS Integrity analysts use a peerless monitoring system to allow robots to analyse real-time price volatility and detect suspicious line/price movements. GLMS predictive models analyse more than one million prices every five seconds.
More importantly, GLMS Operational team can leverage our members’ active trading floors in 31 countries, which contribute effectively to the detection of suspicious betting patterns in retail and digital environments.
The “glocal” dimension of GLMS operational arm is the real differentiator from other sports integrity entities since we have an actual local presence and intelligence on the territory and a very active global network.
On top of the operational engagement, GLMS constantly invests quality time and key resources in education and prevention, which we consider strategic to create awareness, develop a culture of Integrity and Social Responsibility across the globe.