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Internet growth leads to increase in IBAS workload - Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Continuing growth of internet business has contributed to record levels of disputes raised with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), according to figures published in the body's annual report for 2008.

The document, which is available at ibas-uk.com, reveals that adjudication requests, at 2,982, and cases dealt with, at 2,184, were the highest in the ten years since IBAS was created out of The Sporting Life's Green Seal Service.

Internet disputes, which accounted for 13 cases out of a total of 682 dealt with in 1999, were behind 553 - just over a quarter - Ibas deliberations last year.

However, Ibas chief executive Chris O'Keeffe stressed the statistics did not mean internet betting by itself presented a particular problem.

He said: "When IBAS was formed, the internet was in its infancy. Today, the internet is a phenomenon of modern society, so I'm not surprised at the growth in the number of internet betting disputes. The internet has never had so many betting products or been marketed so aggressively, so you have to put our figures into context.

"We shouldn't be surprised by the growth in disputes, when one company can tell me they operate 40 different markets on a single football match. In fact, maybe we should be surprised the number of disputes is so low."

O'Keeffe said the surge in numbers of cases indicated changing attitude and acceptance of independent adjudication right across the betting industry, which had also resulted in far greater awareness of the contribution Ibas can make to the industry's reputation for fairness and integrity.

He added: "Interestingly, there has been a significant rise in the number of bookmakers and operators requesting Ibas materials to display in their premises and on websites, which attracted little attention or desire in previous years."

The new regulatory environment surrounding the Gambling Commission had brought greater scrutiny of Ibas, O'Keeffe said. The two parties recently signed an information sharing agreement.

JEREMY REED, former managing director of the sports division at the Racing Post's previous owner Trinity Mirror, has stepped down as chairman of Ibas. He has been replaced by licensing lawyer Michael Messent.

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