Gambling Regulators Increasingly Reliant on Integrity Monitoring

The recent Jontay Porter and Shoehei Ohtani gambling investigations would seem to indicate that the taint of sports betting can tarnish the reputations of athletes of all strata’s, from those playing on the fringes to those at the very highest levels of their sport. While the Porter investigation has recently concluded and Ohtani looks likely to avoid any direct gambling associations in his case, such stories mark the growing trend of professional athletes embroiled in online gambling investigations. Critics of legalized sports betting are quick to conclude that this worrisome trend is proof that the present-day ubiquity of online gambling is now threatening the very integrity of all sporting leagues—both professional and amateur. But another group working on the frontlines of such investigations offers an alternative explanation.

“The reason it’s all happening now is not because athletes are betting more today than two years ago. It’s because state gaming commissions are focused on this.”

These comments from Matt Holt, Founder and CEO of U.S. Integrity, reflect the hands-on perspectives that integrity monitors provide in the ongoing effort to protect the integrity of sports leagues across North America. In a relatively short period of time, integrity monitors have become established as a crucial third pillar alongside gambling regulators and the sports leagues themselves.

So, what exactly is integrity monitoring and why has it become a core mission objective for gambling regulators? To answer this question, we first look to the headlines once more:


From Genius Sports to Sportradar to the aforementioned U.S. Integrity, professional sports leagues around the world—including the 4 major North American leagues cited in the articles above—have current partnerships in place with integrity monitors. Designed to function as both a proactive early warning system and offender detection tool, integrity monitors provide a crucial service to sports leagues and regulators alike.

How Integrity Monitoring Works:

  1. The integrity monitor accesses betting data from an extensive portfolio of sport betting operators and/or line services.
  2. A proprietary predictive algorithm looks for anomalous behavior indicative of potential game fixing and/or athlete wagering.
  3. Suspicious behaviors are flagged and those that escalate to an alert level are sent as subsequent advisory notifications to the pertinent betting operator, sports league, and gambling regulator.
  4. Minor infractions may result in the operators reacting to mitigate excessive line movement. More serious infractions can lead to a suspension, ban, or arrest of the bettor following subsequent investigation.


In many instances, the betting operators themselves flag suspicious activity to the integrity monitor to compare the anomalies in their system to the larger betting marketplace. 

Ongoing monitoring and subsequent investigation of betting patterns is undoubtedly proving effective and has directly contributed to the recent spate of non-compliant athlete suspensions. However, integrity monitors like U.S. Integrity are now angling to work in even closer cooperation with gambling regulators and sports leagues to effectively detect and block prohibited bettors.

Proactive Prohibition

Within the model envisioned, the gambling regulator, sports league, and integrity monitor each function as stakeholder pillars within an encrypted data-exchange designed to ensure the athletes and employees of participating professional leagues are effectively monitored and prohibited from wagering on sports consistent with their league’s code of conduct. Within this data exchange, the athlete’s private information is secured and anonymized using a powerful encryption tool known as cryptographic hashing. By cross referencing this anonymized data across the exchange, stakeholders can ascertain when a prohibited participant has placed a wager—effectively flagging up those who make prohibited bets whilst simultaneously protecting the anonymity of the good actors abiding by the rules of their league and/or jurisdiction.

Citing privacy concerns, some sports leagues have been reluctant to share their prohibited bettor lists with the states. An encrypted exchange helps to address these concerns by converting a recognizable name to an anonymized code, although the question of whether such a solution meets the full data privacy requirements of all markets remains an open question subject to the necessary legal interpretation.

The Online Gambling Paradox

Wrestling with such considerations speaks to the growing paradox within modern gambling regulation. While online gambling is undoubtedly easier to access and thus more prone to potential addiction for bettors, a digital gambling marketplace is also more accessible to monitor and regulate—providing significant advantages to state and provincial regulators keen to exercise the powerful and predictive investigative and reporting tools at their disposal.

In a regulated marketplace where licensed operators, sports leagues, and regulators work together to share information and best practices, suspicious activities will be detected, violations investigated, and offenders suspended. In short, bad guys getting caught is an indication that the system is working, as opposed to the relative regulatory silence when unlicensed operators dominated the marketplace.

“If there wasn’t legalized sports betting and they were forced to go to the bookies or offshore sportsbooks, we wouldn’t catch it,” said Holt. “[From] 2000 to 2018, how many people got busted for nefarious sports betting activity? Maybe a handful in 18 years? We average 15 to 18 alerts a month, about 40 percent of which lead to suspensions, bans and arrests related to nefarious sports betting activity. So, we’re talking 100 people a year getting suspended or banned or arrested due to nefarious activity. And in the 18 years prior when we didn’t get access to all this information, they might have caught three or five total. It should have been 1,800.” (Source)

Data Accessibility Empowers Effective Integrity Monitoring

In short, the more data accessible to government gambling regulators, sport leagues, and integrity monitors, the better the chances the bad guys will get caught and the good guys (i.e. law-abiding citizens) will be protected. It is here that Gaming Control Solutions like POSSE GCS play a critical role in the effective licensing, regulation, and compliance of the online gambling marketplace.

POSSE GCS equips today’s gambling regulators to excel as a robust pillar in the integrity monitoring process, with a software system properly equipped to expediently transmit and receive data with key external stakeholders and regulatory bodies. Breaking down organizational data silos to achieve a single-source-of-truth, POSSE GCS equips today’s modern agencies with out-of-the-box workflows to regulate your gaming licensees in accordance with current regulations and the public interest.

Of equal importance, POSSE GCS enables the modern regulator to embrace today’s trend towards a Risk-Based Approach to Regulation and Enforcement. This fundamental change facilitates a modernized approach to gaming regulation, equipping the regulator to focus its finite resources on key risks and maintaining game integrity, while simultaneously providing a degree of business flexibility and efficiencies for licensees.

Integrity Demands Vigilance

Unlike the days of the infamous Black Sox or even Pete Rose, today’s sports leagues working in partnership with government gambling regulators have more tools than ever at their disposal to spot the gamblers in their midst. Moreover, today’s multi-million-dollar athletes have more to lose than ever when confronted with the possibility of a season long suspension or lifetime ban.

Granted, it would be nice to envision a world where we don’t need integrity monitoring at all to protect fair outcomes for our favorite pastimes, but such a world has never truly existed. The silver lining of regulated sports betting is the combination of data accessibility and predictive analysis is now able to cast a spotlight on those seeking to damage the integrity of sports. When it comes to catching prohibited bettors, the rapid ascent of integrity monitoring proves an old sports maxim, the best defense is a good offense.