German lawmakers have approved legislation to criminalise match-fixing and betting related fraud.
The legislation to criminalise betting-related manipulation of sport by athletes, trainers and officials was approved by the Bundestag on Thursday and establishes sanctions of up to five years imprisonment.
The Deutsche Sportwettenverband (DSWV), the industry body for sports betting operators in Germany, welcomed the approval as an important step in protecting the integrity of sport and the interests of betting operators.
"The integrity of competition in sports is important and worth protecting. Next to sports, betting operators are the main economical victim of sports manipulation. In case of fraud, they must pay out wrongful winnings," said DSWV president Mathias Dahms."Sports betting will only be an attractive pastime for users when they can rely on the authenticity and credibility of the sport(s) concerned. When the legislator punishes betting related sports manipulation with high prison sentences and fines, both the integrity of sports and the assets of betting operators are protected equally."
This view was echoed by sports betting integrity body ESSA, whose secretary general Khalid Ali commented: "Any move to punish match-fixers is a welcome development for betting operators who are the intended victims of betting related fraud in sport.
"It is, however, vital that the German authorities also establish a modern licensing and regulatory system for betting, which brings all of the major operators within its network and facilitates partnership working and the exchange of information that is crucial to identifying and punishing such corruption."
The country's influential state lottery association the Deutsche Lotto und Totoblock (DLTB) also welcomed the new legislation but called on lawmakers to do more to protect sports by banning in-play betting, a popular offering from its private rivals.
"The approved law is an important step towards making criminal prosecution of sports betting fraud possible. It closes a loophole in the law, which until now prevented efficient criminal prosecution of sports betting fraud and manipulation," said DLTB chairman Torsten Meinberg.
"The law against sports betting fraud alone is not sufficient" he added. "It is important that the supervisory authorities of the individual Bundesländer strengthen gaming regulations and monitoring of sports betting operators for compliance with the necessary duty of care / due diligence."
Meinberg says that in order to strengthen sports integrity, the authorities should ban betting products "that are susceptible to manipulation, including live-betting". He also wants a betting ban on youth and amateur leagues and for the authorities in each German state to step up efforts to combat "illegal betting".Gaming Intelligence