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PACE urges EU to end ‘Malta deadlock’ which is undermining the fight against manipulation in sport

PACE is urging the European Union to rapidly resolve the “institutional deadlock” imposed by Malta over the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ which is preventing the Union and its member States from ratifying a Council of Europe convention aimed at tackling the manipulation of sport.

Unanimously approving a resolution today based on a report by Roland Rino Büchel (Switzerland, ALDE), the Assembly’s Standing Committee said it found “no justification” for Malta’s position, which contests a definition in the Convention affecting its gambling revenues, and urged it to stop seeking new avenues to amend the definition, a move which would “paralyse” the Convention.

Only seven Council of Europe member States have ratified the Convention since it was agreed five years ago, which is just enough for it to enter into force, while some 19 states who have signed it – indicating their willingness to adopt it in principle – have delayed ratification after being “entangled” in the EU decision-making process.

The Convention lays down provisions to outlaw and sanction illegal betting activity in sport, ensure that law enforcement can work trans-nationally to combat it, keep sensitive data out of the hands of criminals, and promote awareness of ethics and integrity among athletes, coaches and sports associations. It creates a collaborative partnership between governments or their national sport platforms, sports governing bodies, national lotteries, sports betting operators and other relevant stakeholders.

Integrity in sport is “generally low” on the political agenda, PACE pointed out, urging states to take more robust action against money-laundering and illegal betting associated with sport – especially in light of the drastic impact of COVID-19, which has boosted illegal activity in sport.

“The time to act is now,” the parliamentarians urged, pointing out that further delay would only benefit criminal networks and undermine sport.