Sports Legal Blog


Player Betting and Sports Governing Bodies Conundrum:  the regulation and enforcement mechanism against betting by those involved in the sport in a bid to protect the integrity of the Sport (Global and Kenya Analysis) Betting is not a recent feature in Kenya having been legalized since 1966 through the introduction of Betting Lotteries and Gaming […]

June 12, 2020


Player Betting and Sports Governing Bodies Conundrum:  the regulation and enforcement mechanism against betting by those involved in the sport in a bid to protect the integrity of the Sport (Global and Kenya Analysis)

Betting is not a recent feature in Kenya having been legalized since 1966 through the introduction of Betting Lotteries and Gaming Act. Over the recent years, we have seen the frenzy that was created in Kenya through online gaming sites that changed the entire landscape of the betting industry.  The introduction of these types of gambling companies coupled with technological advancements such as online payment methods such as Mpesa, made it easier for sport betting to become the most popular form of gambling.

Gambling has become a multi-billion-dollar business and it is estimated by the year 2022, the global gambling market could be worth $635 billion.According to a survey done by GeoPoll’s series of studies on the rise of sports betting, Kenya has the highest number of gambling youth in Sub- Saharan Africa.  A 2017 PWC report put Kenya amongst one of the largest gambling markets.  In addition,  a 2017 GeoPoll’s Study observed that Gambling was becoming popular due to the high affinity towards sports and technology, combined with the proliferation of local sports betting players and convenience of a mobile phone as a gambling tool.

A gambling Outlook 2017-2021 report by PWC gave an estimate of yearly turnover of sports betting industry to be worth $20 million and will reach $50 million in 2020 as demand grows.The figures given by the betting regulator in Kenya Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), the gross gambling revenue 2016/2017 was estimated to be Ksh 20 billion.

These statistics raise the inevitable notion of probability of match fixing, sport-fixing and misuse of inside information to occur in Kenya. The nature of sports betting presents a challenge for those charged with regulation of, keeping athletes, sports administrators and officials from seeking to take advantage of their capacity, making it strenuous to protect the integrity of the sports from corruption. Hence it becomes critical for the stakeholders in private and public sector to collaborate to combat this threat, at times across different legal and sporting jurisdictions while being constrained by the restrictions to share information and intelligence.

With the recent investigation into doping and corruption in athletes, it is arguable that the sport integrity has never been so undermined .In the same period there has been numerous instances around the globe where players, coaches, administrators and officials who are either indirectly or have direct connection with sport have been found culpable for staking a bet in their own sport and have been sanctioned.

Betting on sport has never been more popular due to technological advancement. It hence becomes probable that the sports participants will make part of the growing market. This article seeks to examine the need of tackling gambling by athletes and officials, and the lack of regulatory framework on checks and balances by Athletes and officials by the sports governing body in Kenya.  This leads to the question: why does sport need to address betting by sport participants especially in their own sport even when it bears no link to any form of sport fixing or manipulation? It lies on two notions Integrity and Perception. There seems to be a lack of understanding by sport participant of the difference of merely betting and one fixing a match. This can lead to perception that the integrity of the sport has been compromised by the bet, even if match fixing is not involved.

The World Rugby states that, “Public confidence is the authenticity and integrity of sporting contest is of paramount importance. If the confidence were to be undermined the Game would be fundamentally affected.” The English FA Independent Regulatory Commission also highlighted on the integrity in the Lewis Smith Case. In which Smith had placed a bet against his own team losing the commission stated,” There is no suggestion that he did not play to the best of his ability, or that he did, or did not do, anything untoward that influenced the outcome of the match. There is also no evidence and no suggestion that the outcome of the match was tainted in any way. However, the appearance that such a bet creates in the minds of right-minded observers, and the inevitable erosion of trust and confidence in a fair impartial result, is why it is properly regarded as a serious aggravating feature in a betting case of this kind.”

To put the mater into context, here are some global cases

Philip Blake- Coach-Rugby Union

Philip Blake the defence coach of an English Premiership rugby Union club Leicester Tigers RFC was given a 6month global suspension and fined for betting on his team.

Angela Reaks-Player-Cricket

Cricket Australia imposed a two-year suspended sentence on player Angela Reakes for placing five bets on the ‘man-of-the-match’ betting market during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. She was sanctioned despite not being a participant in the competition. However, the scale of the betting should only be relevant to the sanction and not the breach itself.

Joey Barton- Midfielder- Burnley FC

Joey Barton was suspended from all football related activity for 18 months after admitting to Football Association misconduct on charge related to betting. He is alleged to have placed 1260 bets on football matches between March 2006 and May 2013.

Regulation of Betting by Global Sport Governing Bodies

The Sport governing bodies seek utmost to protect the integrity of the game by imposing prohibition on Participants betting on their sport. Hence, the scope of prohibition regulation placed upon sport participants varies mainly if the event is in their jurisdiction. A sport has to find a balance in understanding the participants under the jurisdiction against the practical enforcement. The prohibition is usually contained in the governing bodies regulation i.e.:

1. FIFA- Federation Internationale de Football Association
“Persons bound by FIFA Code of Ethics shall be forbidden from taking part in, either directly or indirectly or otherwise being associated with betting, gambling, lotteries and similar events or transactions connected with football matches or any football related activities. They are forbidden from having stakes, either actively or passively, in companies, concerns, organizations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct such events or transactions.”

Rugby Union- World Rugby
“No Connected Person shall, directly or indirectly, Wager and/or attempt to Wager on the outcome or any aspect of any Connected Event and/or any Benefit in relation to a Wager.”

3. Cricket- International Cricket Council (ICC)
The conduct described… if committed by a Participant, shall amount to an offence…Placing, accepting, laying or otherwise entering into any Bet with any other Party (whether individual, company, otherwise) in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any international Match.”

4. Athletics- International Olympic Committee (IOC)
An IOC published Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of Manipulation of Competitions:

“The following conduct as defined in this Article constitutes a violation of this code:

Betting in relation either:

  • to a Competition in which the Participant is directly participating; or
  •  to the Participant’s sport; or
  1. To any event of a multisport Competition in which one is a participant.”

A blanket (i.e. total ban) approach is justified by governing bodies on the basis of:

  1. It being easy for participants to understand and comply with; and
  2. The perception of sport being clean for example, The Cricket Australia said In Reakes Case, “Public confidence in the authenticity and integrity of sporting contest is therefore vital. If that confidence is undermined, then the very essence of cricket will be shaken to the core.”

In relation to Kenya, the Sport Governing Bodies are mainly dependent rules and regulations by the Global Sport Organizations. The issue of enforcement on certain rules and regulations such as Betting, become a hinderance due to lack of funding to effectively implement certain code of conducts by the sport organizations in their respective jurisdictions. There is a need, urgent need for Kenyan Sport Governing Bodies to have in place robust, comprehensive and monitoring systems. This should include gathering of intelligence by working with betting operators through memoranda of understanding, entering into commercial relationship with sports betting monitoring company. As well as seeking strict amendments/ additions to the law to ensure empowerment of the Sport Organizations against vices such as corruption in the sport.

International Sport Governing Federation methods and approaches to monitoring and Enforcement

  1. FIFA enforces its regulations relating to betting integrity through a combination of resources from its Security Division and its own ‘in-house’ betting monitoring capability Early Warning System GmbH (EWS) which is a separate entity which works by having direct non-commercial agreements with betting operators and its aim is to protect football matches in all FIFA tournaments by monitoring and analyzing the international sports betting market and through comprehensive FIFA Security.
  2. The ICC has its own Anti-Corruption Unit(ACU) that pursues three objectives: investigation, education, and prevention. The ACU is a professional, permanent and secure infrastructure that looks to act as a long-term deterrent to conduct of corrupt nature prejudicial to interests of the game of cricket, which includes betting by participants. The ICC has a relationship with sports betting monitoring services provider Sportradar. Since 2004 Sportradar has provided its Fraud Detection System service to the ICC to assist them with identifying suspicious betting which maybe in breach of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code.
  3. World Rugby has its own anti-corruption website’ Keep Rugby Onside’which sets out betting restriction for connected persons, it also provides details of how it monitors and seeks to prevent betting integrity offences, ”Monitoring measures are in place both within World Rugby, Unions, betting companies and increasingly as shown in the case studies, government and police units in many countries to detect unusual betting or occurrences in sporting contests….these bodies exchange information with World Rugby…when World Rugby identifies or becomes aware of an incident…there may be an immediate charge against the persons(s) involved by World Rugby, the person Union and/or the police and the commencement of displinary proceedings.”World Rugby has a commercial partnership relationship with Sportradar for the Fraud Detection System.
  4. The Football Association of England has one of the most robust monitoring and enforcement rules and regulations devised to help protecting the integrity of football when it comes to Betting, match-fixing and inside information. It introduced a worldwide ban on betting was introduced to all those involved in the game qt Premier League, English Football League, National League and Women’s Super League Levels, as well as those clubs in the Northern, Southern and Isthmian Leagues and all other participants who don’t fall into the category below. Participants covered in the ban prohibited from betting, either directly or indirectly on any football match or competition that takes place anywhere in the world which includes a worldwide ban on betting on any other football related matter. Such kind of deterrence has shaped the levels of integrity of sportsmanship in England.

Such kind of sophisticated monitoring and enforcement strategies discussed are quite expensive in terms of resources need to be effective which may ultimately lock out some Sport Governing bodies out. Even if there’s allocation of resources implementation becomes a very contentious issue as only a handful of cases are brought before the organizations displinary committees to be dealt with.

For the purposes of Sport Organisation Bodies in Kenya tasked with regulation within their own jurisdiction, they usually face issues mostly of funding, corruption and dispute wrangles amongst the Leadership/officials.  That’s why prior to cancellation of Betting Licenses by the Kenyan Government,companies such as SportPesa were the major sponsors of various sporting competitions and when they withdrew their sponsorships, it had a negative effect in the running of the sport countrywide.Which shows how dependent Sport Organizations are on sponsors than themselves due to inadequate funding and sponsorship, which highlights the effect of Betting companies in the game . How can these Sport Organisation in Kenya protect and enforce the integrity of the game while they lack both financial and labour resources to run effectively their competitions?


1.  ‘Report Says Global Gambling Market Will Reach US$635 Billion by 2022’(Focus Gaming News, 2020) accessed 3 January 2020

2. Njeri Wangari,’ Understanding The Kenyan Gambling Consumer: Insights On Sports Betting- GeoPoll’(GeoPoll,2020) accessed January 3, 2020

3.‘Gambling Outlook 2017-2021’(PWC, 2020) accessed January 3, 2020

4. Kevin Carpenter,’ No Gambling Permitted: How Sports Governing Bodies Regulate Betting By Athletes And “Connected Persons”-LawinSport’ (LawinSport, 2020) accessed January 3, 2020

5. World Rugby Regulation 6: Anti-Corruption and Betting, Article 6.1.3 (b), 3 January 2020

6. The Football Association v Lewis Smith, FA Independent Regulatory Commission, 9 March 2016

7.The Rugby Football Union v Philip Blake, RFU Displinary Panel, 24 May 2015

8. ‘Angela Reakes Charged with breaching Anti-Corruption Code’, Cricket Australia, 22 December 2015 accessed 3 January 2020

9. ‘Angela Reakes Charged with breaching Anti-Corruption Code’, Cricket Australia, 22 December 2015 accessed 3 January 2020

10. ‘Joey Barton Suspended From Football For 18 Months ‘(The Irish Times, 2020) <https://> accessed  January 3, 2020

11. FIFA Code Of Ethics, 2019 edition, Article 26: Involvement with betting, gambling or similar activities> accessed 3 January 2020

12. World Rugby Union 6:Anti-corruption and Betting, Article 6.1.3(b),> accessed 3 January 2020

13. The International Cricket Council, Anti-Corruption Code for Participants, Article 2.2.1, accessed 3 January 2020

14. Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions, International Olympic Committee, 8 December 2015 <>

15. Angela Reakes Charged with breaching Anti-Corruption Code’, Cricket Australia, 22 December 2015 [accessed 3 January 2020]

16. FIFA Security, [accessed 3 January 2020]

17. Anti-Corruption Overview, [accessed 3 January 2020]

18. Sports Radar Security<[ Last Accessed 3 January 2020}

19. Sports Radar Security,  [Last Accessed 3 January 2020]

20. ‘Keep Rugby Onside,’  [Last Accessed 3 January 2020]

21. Keep Rugby Onside, [Last Accessed 3 January 2020]

22. The Association,’ Know The Rules: Betting, Match Fixing And Inside Information’(, 2020) accessed 3 January 2020

23. Waweru Titus,’ SportPesa Cancels All Sports Sponsorship In Kenya: The Standard’ (The Standard, 2020)<> accessed 3 January 2020