GVC Launches US Foundation Focused on Responsibility Online

GVC Launches US Foundation Focused on Responsibility Online
© USA Today

Amani Toomer has seen the perception of gambling slowly change from a forbidden topic to something the NFL uses to promote itself.

The former New York Giants wide receiver knows the spread of legal sports betting will come with benefits to the league, players and fans. He also knows there will be challenges that need to be confronted directly and responsibly.

When Toomer was offered the opportunity to educate and assist those potentially impacted by integrity concerns or problem gambling by a like-minded coalition, he seized upon it.

Toomer, a member of the Super Bowl XLII championship Giants team and activist and broadcaster since his retirement in 2009, was announced Tuesday as a trustee of the newly announced GVC Foundation US. The organization is dedicated “to responsible gaming, sports integrity and gambling regulation research in collaboration with Seton Hall Law,” according to a news release.

"When I was approached by (GVC), they were concerned and wanted to make sure that this is 100% on the up-and-up and it's not something that's going to be detrimental,” Toomer said of the impact of legal sports betting in the United States. “And that's one of the reasons why they launched this foundation. We want to make sure that there are responsible gamblers that enjoy the games and enjoy it just as a pastime and not get caught up into it.”

GVC Holdings Helps Back Integrity Program

GVC Holdings, one of the largest gaming entities in the world, will co-fund the education program on gaming, compliance and integrity. The first U.S. online gambling and hospitality training program will also collaborate with the National Council on Problem Gambling, which supports veterans with addictions.

Martin Lycka, the director of regulatory affairs at GVC Holdings, and William J. Pascrell, III, partner at Princeton Public Affairs Group, will also serve as trustees.

“Gambling is here and there is a way to do it responsibly (with) integrity of gambling and the regulations, research, education, although the treatment is all the stuff that really whet my whistle about it,” Toomer told Gambling.com. “I'm not a big gambler myself, but I know that there are people with issues, and I think this foundation is going to donate money for research to make sure that there's responsible ways to do it.

“And then, if people go off in the wrong direction, there's going to be some support groups and things like that. I'm just doing things too to make the community better. And you know, there's no better way to make community better than actually being a part of all the moving pieces.”

Integrity Programs Target Black Market Impact

Integrity is a crucial concern for the legal sports betting industry as it – and the leagues that increasingly partner with it – presents the pastime as a new form of entertainment. Following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018 and before all four major professional sports leagues inked gaming sponsorship or data deals last year, leagues lobbied for so-called “integrity” fees from gaming companies on the premise that regulated sports betting would require anti-corruption measures that were absent when the black market held sway.

The leagues eventually moved away from the demand, suggesting there has been no wave of attempted corruption with 13 states having legalized sports betting and put it into practice.

Diligence remains a priority for the legal industry, however. Toomer thinks he was approached by illegal gamblers when he was a wide receiver at the University of Michigan. But he’s not sure. They were subtle. They were not the cliched shadowy figures in trench coats that have served as the icons of the black market industry. It was about “getting hooks into you,” he said.

Toomer said all involved must be proactive to prevent this.

“You want to know what that looks like. You kind of start to see patterns and you start to see what's going on,” Toomer said. “And I want to pass that on to make sure those who are naive, I mean you got 19-, 18-year-old kids that are just happy that people are talking to them and happy to be wearing the jersey and not knowing they could be putting themselves at risk.”

Photo at top (left to right): Brianne Doura, National Council on Problem Gambling Legislative Director; GVC Foundation US Trustees Bill Pascrell III, Amani Toomer and Martin Lycka; and Kathleen Boozang, Dean of Seton Hall Law School. (Photo credit: Seton Hall University School of Law)

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