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Maltese public to give opinion on sports corruption

Malta sports corruption bill open to public

A public consultation on sports corruption has opened up to the Maltese public.

The Times of Malta has reported that the government has drafted a bill which tackles sports corruption and has opened up the floor to public opinion for the next six weeks.

Following the consultation, the opinions and reports will be considered and presented to parliament when it reconvenes on October 2.

Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations, Clifton Grima, said that everyone should participate in the consultation.

“We all have a duty to defend the integrity of our sportsmen and women and punish severely those who are using sport for illicit aims,” he said.

“The government is doing its best to make sure all the necessary steps are taken so that together we can protect the integrity of Maltese sport.”

The draft bill was first presented in February to the anti-corruption task force, led by the Malta Football Association(MFA). The Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts’ Task Force also consists of government officials, police, and the Malta Gaming Authority.

The legislation involves harsher penalties handed down to sports officials and athletes caught match-fixing, including a five-year jail sentence. Additional deterrents include a hefty fine, with the penalties applying to retired sports officials and athletes, as well as individuals who benefit from corruption.

The new law also includes a clearer definition of ‘sports corruption’ to better reflect the online betting environment and gives police more power when it comes to prosecuting offenders.

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The bill addresses the concept of ‘inside information’ which prohibits those involved in sports from using information otherwise unknown to the public in order to sway the betting market.

Anyone who is found guilty of sports corruption will also be banned from sports venues in Malta and Gozo.

The bill has been delayed during the election which resulted in Grima replacing former sports parliamentary secretary, Chris Agius.

However, a spokeswoman for the sports parliamentary secretariat said the government would address the issues when parliament reconvenes to continue the fight against corruption in sport.

“A review of the draft bill prepared by the appointed members of the task force… is under way and as soon as the final draft is finalised, it will be presented again to the task force and later submitted in Parliament after the summer recess,” she said.

The current legislation does not adequately deal with corruption since it was enforced in the 1970s. Match-fixing is a common problem all around the world, and it is increasing due to the anonymity of online betting.

As a result, Malta launched the taskforce in 2015 to counter the problems and discuss solutions.

“The law has served its purpose for more than 40 years. Cheaters have been convicted by our criminal courts and handed punishments that have sent a strong message across the country,” Grima said in a press release.

“However, the criminal offence of sports manipulation has evolved dramatically, particularly in the last 10 years.

“Nowadays, corruption in sport not only occurs by bribing an opponent to earn some championship victory or to avoid relegation, but has taken on a much bigger financial dimension.”

But Grima does not blame the betting sites.

“On the contrary, gaming companies are defrauded out of millions of euros every year due to the manipulation of the betting markets, with the production of odds that do not reflect the real outcome of a particular event, he said.

“This has made this crimi­nal offence a very easy and popular vehicle by which international criminal organisations launder money.”