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IBIA and H2 Publish New Study Which Highlights the Benefits of Liberal Sports Betting Regulation for Sports Integrity, Consumer Protection and Tax Revenues

Posted on 19 March 2024 in General

The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) has launched ‘The Availability of Sports Betting Products: An Economic and Integrity Analysis’ study. The study has been prepared by H2 Gambling Capital, the leading authority regarding market data and intelligence on the gambling industry.

The study analyses the comparative impact of restrictive and liberal market regulation of sports betting products on consumer protection, regulatory oversight, taxable revenue, market and sports integrity. It draws on sports betting operator data, IBIA alert data, and H2’s own market data, and was developed in partnership with: Instituto Brasileiro de Jogo Responsável, Canadian Gaming Association, Netherlands Online Gambling Association, and Responsible Wagering Australia.

The study’s central finding is that there is a strong correlation between the wide availability of sports betting products and the proportion of consumers who place bets with onshore regulated sports betting operators (known as the channelling rate), thereby reducing the risks of exposure to sports betting related fraud on unlicenced markets.

It also highlights specific betting markets that have a disproportionate impact on the market and the onshore channelling rate due to their size and popularity. This includes football, which dominates sports betting globally, and tennis, which is particularly strong in Europe. Products like ‘in-play’, ‘side markets’ (e.g. cards and corners) and ‘prop’ betting also have a very significant impact on channelling.

New data challenges the assumption that these markets represent a heightened risk of match-fixing related fraud, while demonstrating that restricting their availability via regulated onshore operators significantly increases the number of consumers using riskier unlicensed offshore operators.

Khalid Ali, CEO IBIA, said: “Whilst politically attractive, this study confirms that bet restrictions are a blunt and counterproductive instrument. They don’t prevent betting, they just drive it into the unregulated market where most of the problems with sports integrity arise. The conclusions are clear: if you want to protect consumers and sports from corrupters, while maximising tax revenues, then allowing a wide range of sports betting products is essential.”

David Henwood, Director at H2, added: “We always fall back on the data. There is much conjecture that one of the main reasons customers use offshore betting sites is because they offer a broader range of product than available onshore. The study findings reinforce that point of view. Limiting the choice of onshore bet types - including live in-play - is basically counter-productive. Instead, markets most successful in limiting offshore play - evidenced by a channelling rate of 90% plus - are the ones that have generally opened their onshore provision to a broad product choice. There is much that can be learnt herein in terms of best practice regulation.”

The study details the growing global popularity of sports betting. In 2024, global sports betting is forecast to be worth $94bn in gross win, and reach approximately $132bn by 2028, with over 70% ($93bn) online. Just under half (47%) of all online sports bets are forecast to be placed in-play (or live) in 2024, rising to 51% by 2028.

It also compares the success of different regulatory approaches to managing this growing demand. It finds that jurisdictions that allow a wide range of betting products, such as Great Britain (97%), have a much higher onshore consumer channelling rate than countries that restrict access to important betting markets, like Portugal (79%; restricts football and tennis), Australia (75%; prohibits online in-play) and Germany (60%; restricts football, tennis and in-play).

Beyond protecting consumers from match-fixing related fraud, these depressed onshore channelling rates are shown to have significant implications on tax revenue and market oversight. For instance, the study forecasts that:

  • Australia would gain an additional $1bn in incremental tax revenues, and Germany an additional $400m, over the next five years if they permitted online in-play betting markets.
  • Germany and Portugal are predicted to have a combined loss offshore of around $750m in taxable revenues due to restricted access to the main football betting markets between 2024-28.
  • The Netherlands would experience a $118m uplift of tax revenue over the next five years if it liberalised access to football side markets (e.g. cards and corners).
  • Portugal would benefit from an extra $122m in tax revenue over the next five years if it permitted availability of ITF tennis betting products to align with Italy and Spain.

The study’s findings are important for policymakers to consider as new jurisdictions – notably in North and South America – consider how best to regulate their online sports betting markets. In Brazil, for example, a regulatory framework with high product availability is expected to have $34bn in onshore sports betting turnover, providing $2.8bn in GGR, by 2028.

The experience of Ontario is also instructive. Having broken away from the Canadian monopoly model and introduced a licensing system in 2022, Ontario’s onshore sports betting channelisation is expected to reach 92% in 2024. In contrast, the rest of Canada combined is forecast to have a rate of around 11% and to lose $2bn in taxable revenues between 2024-28.

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