The Downsizing of Sports Industries (DSI) has sparked a fierce debate over the morality of wagering on sport. Proponents refer to DSI as a “new form of gambling,” while critics view betting on sporting events as a time-honored tradition.
What Is the DSI Betting Commission?
DSI was formed in 2014 when the industry-funded British Tennis Federation (BTF) voted to combine with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to form the Federation Internationale de Tenis (FIT) in order to promote competitive tennis around the world. The stated mission of DSI is to “safeguard and promote the sport of tennis.” While the organization’s primary objective is to host international tennis championships, its backers also have financial interests in the gambling sector.
The DSI constitution mandates that its members must “abstain from all forms of wagering,” and it does not permit individual members to hold more than 500,000 British pounds ($629,000) in total bets per year. However, it does not specify what constitutes a “form of wagering.”
The DSI board of directors has established a 10-person “DSI Betting Commission,” which is chaired by Nigel Cook. The commission must provide ethical advice to DSI on gambling-related matters, and it maintains the right to inspect the organization’s financial records. Critics have charged that the commission is merely a figurehead and that its power is limited by the constitution.
Is There Anything Good About DSI?
While many people see DSI as a corruption-free alternative to the existing body of international tennis governing, the organization actually faces a number of challenges. Namely, the British government views tennis as a “popular pastime amongst the British people,” and it thus contributes financially to the sport through the Betting Duty Levy. This levy is charged to and collected from all British bookmakers and is used to fund tennis activities in the country. In addition, the fact that DSI is a “not-for-profit” organization means that it must rely on the generosity of its members for financial support.
On the other hand, DSI’s creation was meant to serve the interests of the British tennis community rather than the sport as a whole. In this way, it is similar to the British Olympic Association (BOA), as the British government also contributes to the BOA which, in turn, funds the British Olympic team. In addition, most of DSI’s income comes from “sponsorships” and “licensing agreements” which are contracts between an organization and a company or individual in which the latter funds the former to promote a particular product or cause. As such, DSI is essentially a public relations tool for the British tennis community and the companies that fund it.
What About The Morality Of Wagering?
One of the key issues that has arisen from the creation of DSI is whether or not it is morally acceptable to bet on sporting events. To that end, in 2015 DSI published a statement affirming that “sports betting is not, in and of itself, immoral” but that it can become so if used in “an unproductive or un-sporting manner.”
These statements came after an International Herald Tribune investigation in 2014 which revealed that the ITF allowed companies that fund it to place bets on tennis matches. While ITF officials insisted that this activity did not represent an ethical breach and stressed that all bets were placed with licensed bookmakers, the investigation raised questions about whether or not the federation was doing enough to police the betting industry.
While it is certainly true that sports wagering has a long tradition in the UK and that the majority of people who follow sport wagering do so independently and ethically, some individuals and organizations have raised concerns about whether or not tennis is a “sporting” event and whether or not it is ethical to bet on it. Those who object to wagering on tennis say that the sport is largely “fixed” in terms of results, and that gambling adds an additional layer of uncertainty that spoils the fun of following a sporting event.
On the other hand, DSI has defended its position by saying that while “the vast majority of people enjoy gambling on sport,” it is concerned that “some people see it as a way of making money” and that it wants to ensure that this “unwanted practice” does not threaten the integrity of tennis. As such, Cook has stated that, while the industry will not ban sports betting, it will work with authorities and regulators to ensure that it is done responsibly.
What About DSI’s Effect On The Game?
Another important issue that has arisen from the formation of DSI is what effect it will have on the players and the game of tennis. In a time of uncertainty about the future of tennis, many people are wondering whether or not DSI will make the game more or less attractive. For example, critics have argued that the creation of DSI will remove the “human element” from tennis and that this will make it a more “mechanical” sport.
On the contrary, some people believe that, by establishing itself as a counterbalance to existing international tennis governing bodies, DSI will ensure that the “human element” remains paramount in determining the outcomes of sporting events.
The truth is that, as a relatively new and untested organization, we simply do not know how DSI will affect the future of tennis. However, what we do know is that sports wagering has a long tradition in the UK and that the majority of people who follow it do so ethically. This being said, the UK government does not regulate sports wagering, and it therefore remains to be seen whether or not DSI can truly uphold this tradition.
In the meantime, we can expect to see more and more people trying to make a living from betting on sport, and it therefore comes as no surprise that organized sports betting is set to become a multibillion-dollar industry.