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First sports betting integrity group launched in United States

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. sportsbook operators on Tuesday announced the formation of a new national non-profit organization to help monitor integrity and fight fraud as the country’s new sports wagering market expands.

The group, called the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association, or SWIMA, will partner with state and tribal gaming regulators, law enforcement and other stakeholders.

It is the first such group in the United States and aims to ensure “a safe and secure betting environment for consumers across the country,” SWIMA Chief Integrity Officer George Rover, a former New Jersey assistant attorney general and gaming regulator, said in a statement.

The association is taking shape as more and more states are legalizing, regulating and taxing sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court in May overturned a 1992 law that had barred it in most places outside of Nevada.

Sportsbooks, leagues and regulators already do their own fraud monitoring, looking for odd betting patterns, abnormalities, insider activity and other suspicious data.

The new group will let member sportsbook operators from any state submit information about suspicious wagers to a central hub and alert regulators in many states, not just their own.

“The key is to ensure that sportsbook operators are able to connect,” Rover told Reuters in an interview.

He said SWIMA expects to be operational within 90 days.

The group received help from and is modeled after ESSA, a sports betting integrity group in Europe with which SWIMA will also share information to identify potential fraud that could have a global reach.

On it board of trustees are Stephen Martino, MGM Resorts International’s chief compliance officer and a former state regulator in Maryland and Kansas, and former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, now Caesars Entertainment Corp’s executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility.

So far, member operators, or companies with affiliated licensees, include MGM, Caesars, William Hill PLC, DraftKings and FanDuel Group, a unit of Paddy Power Betfair PLC.

Also involved are 888 Holdings PLC, Bet365 Group Ltd., Golden Nugget Inc., Hard Rock International, Resorts Casino Hotel and Tropicana Atlantic City.

Sportsbook operators will fund the group, which will work with risk management experts and gaming regulators to identify suspicious activity and alert members.

SWIMA is “an important milestone” that shows “the industry’s commitment to upholding integrity across all facets of a legal, regulated sports betting market,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, a casino industry group.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Bill Berkrot