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01 Mar 2011
IOC News

IOC President opens historic meeting on irregular and illegal sport betting

IOC President Jacques Rogge opened a historic meeting on irregular and illegal sport betting this morning in Lausanne. You'll find here his opening speech.

We are here to discuss a serious threat to sport and to society. Irregular and illegal betting are closely linked to match fixing and money laundering.

As we open this important dialogue on ways to deal with this threat, I want make sure that the position of the International Olympic Committee is absolutely clear.

We have no issue with legal betting. Betting on sporting events is as old as sport itself. Reputable betting firms are our allies in this effort, and we are pleased that they are represented here today. The legitimate sports gambling industry is built on a foundation of confidence in the integrity of sport. If that confidence is shaken, the entire industry is threatened.

We also fully appreciate the fact that the legal structures governing sports betting vary widely from country to country. Some countries prohibit all forms of sports betting. Others sponsor national lotteries that help pay for sport programmes and other worthy causes.

We respect the right of sovereign nations to deal with sports betting as they deem appropriate. We have no desire to interfere with that right.

Our sole goal — and the purpose of this meeting — is to find ways on how we can work together to prevent irregular and illegal betting on sporting events.

With help from legitimate betting organisations and law enforcement agencies, we closely monitor sports wagers during the Olympic Games. Fortunately, we have found no evidence of irregular betting on Olympic Games.

Whilst that is comforting, it does not justify complacency. We are not naïve. We must take action to protect sport because if we fail to do so, it is only a matter of time before betting-related corruption infects the Olympic Games. We cannot let that happen.

I want to thank International Federations and National Olympic Committees that have adopted clear prohibitions and strong sanctions against betting that threatens the integrity of sport. I urge all other relevant Olympic organisations to follow their example. The IOC will remain vigilant and commit sufficient resources to this effort.  

But the Olympic Movement cannot deal effectively with this problem alone. Irregular betting occurs through legitimate, government-sanctioned gambling operators. Illegal betting — the domain of unlicensed operators — is an even more difficult challenge.  It provides no revenue for sport or government, and it harms legitimate businesses that do. 

The criminal networks that profit from irregular and illegal gambling are often sophisticated and far-reaching. They are beyond the reach of the Olympic Movement. We cannot counter their insidious influence without help from government authorities and others outside the world of sport.  

That is why we have asked you here today. We need your expertise and your ideas. It is my hope that this meeting will start a discussion that leads to closer cooperation against illegal betting in sport. This is a complex issue, but I am confident we can find common ground. 

We all have a stake in this matter. By protecting the integrity of sport, we are protecting the integrity of society. We are showing our children that fair play is important. That is our cause. That is our common goal. 

Thank you for coming. I look forward to an informative and constructive meeting.

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