Illegal bookmakers will be the main focus of a new Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force created by the Asian Racing Federation (ARF).
The federation of horse racing governing bodies in Asia has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission in order to stop the outflow of billions of money to underground bookmakers.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) is one of 21 members of the ARF and is driving the launch of the Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force. The HKJCs head of security, Martin Purbrick, has been appointed to the chairman role.
The ARF has been campaigning for the Task Force since HKJC chief executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, suggested it during the Asian Racing Conference last year.
“The agreement is the first that the ARF has signed with a law enforcement agency and illustrates the commitment of the ARF and its members to work with and assist law enforcement agencies in upholding the integrity of horse racing and combatting illegal betting, a key driver of sports corruption,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
Pubrick also commented on the inception of the Task Force, revealing it would start off by educating ARF members on race-fixing and how to deal with racing integrity associated issues.
“Horse racing has had a long, historical relationship with betting which has left it better placed than some sports to deal with threats to integrity from betting,” he said.
While offshore bookies can provide wider markets with lower prices for punters and in turn increase competition, the HKJC has regularly recorded profits in annual reports.
Still, Pubrick is very focused on eliminating competition.
“Illegal betting markets have grown hugely in the past decade, especially in Asia, and this has brought new threats from organised criminal groups who seek to profit from illegal betting markets and sports corruption,” he said.
“The ARF is resolute in combating this threat.”
To do this, the Task Force will release reports on illegal betting in the markets associated with 21 racing jurisdictions with “information about individual groups.”
“What we want to do for racing jurisdictions is to help them convince government agencies that they should be doing something to solve these problems,” Pubrick said.
Racing bodies in Australia have commented on the Task Force, including Racing Victoria.
“It will be a sophisticated and strong taskforce that will be put in place,” Racing Victoria executive general manager of integrity, Dayle Brown said.
“We are very keen to have an exchange of information with other countries across Asia.”
The need for a strong task force is quite prominent since according to the HKJC many countries are not even aware of how much money is being syphoned out.
“We’ve got to do it as a united front,” Brown said.
“In some parts of Asia, more than $1 billion is going out of the racing economy and that’s got to stop.”