Horse Racing
37th Asian Racing Conference hears that racing must work with government to combat illegal betting

17/05/2018 17:29

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Director, Security and Integrity, Mr. Martin Purbrick, chaired a plenary session titled ‘Anti-Illegal betting and money laundering’ at the 37th Asian Racing Conference in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday morning (17 May, 2018).

In his opening remarks, Mr. Purbrick said: “The tsunami of illegal betting has arrived. The scale and continued growth of illegal betting is clearly impacting racing and other sports, and there is a negative impact on sport and society. Illegal betting is growing twice as fast as legal betting, so clearly there is an inflection point in the future where there will be a significant impact on the legal market.

“There is a huge problem of criminality using betting, racing and sports for profit. If we in racing don’t influence government to regulate it, to more effectively combat the problem, it could kill the sport,” he said, stressing in particular the criticality of integrity to customer confidence.

He updated delegates on the activities of the Asian Racing Federation’s Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce, which had its genesis at the previous ARC in January, 2016.

“To produce a tangible strategy going forward we will do three things; firstly, in the next several months the Taskforce will publish a substantive white paper with the full results of our research into illegal betting; secondly, we aim to expand the Taskforce to include representatives from law enforcement agencies, academics, and representatives from the northern hemisphere to widen the impact of action against illegal betting; thirdly, we will convene the expanded Taskforce in the second half of 2018, to formulate and deliver a long-term strategy for racing,” he said.

He affirmed that continued and expanded engagement between the industry and law enforcement agencies and government is critical to the fight against illegal gambling.

“The operators of illegal betting are generally criminals, so there is a nexus of criminality,” he said. “The scale of the growth of illegal betting and the scale of organised crime means that racing administrators have to recognise this risk: what we aim to do is help racing administrators to better educate regulators and government agencies. We can’t deal with this problem on our own, the involvement of law enforcement is critical and we have established close ties with key bodies in Australia, Hong Kong and China.”

Mr. Purbrick handed over to Mr. Douglas Robinson, the Jockey Club’s Senior Manager, Due Dilligence and Research, Security and Integrity, who gave a summary of the Anti-illegal Betting Taskforce’s study into illegal betting activities in five countries, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa and New Zealand.

“Our main findings can be broadly synthesized into the following,” he said, “The illegal betting markets are increasingly large and growing rapidly; illegal betting corrupts sports and facilitates money laundering; illegal betting fosters gambling disorder, which can cause a large number of associated social issues. Together, these three all represent a large cost to society.”

He proposed that illegal gambling from the five countries studied had reaped a US$2.6 billion profit in 2016, a figure equal to half the profits of the entire US utilities industry.

The Taskforce findings showed that the rate of expansion of illegal betting is double that of legal growth.

“Legal could be subsumed by illegal,” he said.

In the conference’s final session, Mr. John Ridley, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Director, Racing Capital Projects, delivered a presentation titled ‘Racetrack design – striving for safety and consistency.’