Biggest ever taskforce to begin investigating black market gambling
The Asian Racing Federation will later next month create one of the most powerful anti-illegal betting taskforces in a bid to outlaw the haemorrhaging of billions of dollars of betting money to underground bookmakers.
The federation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Hong Kong Jockey Club is driving the campaign.
Members of Interpol will brief integrity officers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand on the impact of illegal betting and the size, scope and sophistication of operators.
The International Centre For Sports Security claims that 85 per cent of the Chinese sports betting market, worth $US600 billion ($801 billion), is illegal. The majority of global illegal wagering is estimated at between $US750 billion and $US1 trillion.
“It will be a sophisticated and strong taskforce that will be put in place,” said Racing Victoria executive general manger of integrity Dayle Brown. “We are very keen to have an exchange of information with other countries across Asia.”
Brown believes an audit trail of gambling dollars always ends when a punter turns to an illegal operator to bet with.
“We have made it a rule of racing that licensed people must bet with authorised bookmakers and it is against the rules to bet with these underground operators,” he said.
“We’ve got to do it as a united front. In some parts of Asia, more than $1 billion is going out of the racing economy and that’s got to stop.”
Officials believe the taskforce will provide a platform for co-operation and information sharing between 21 racing jurisdictions that make up the Asian Racing Federation.
One professional punter contacted by Fairfax Media said anyone in Australia thinking of betting with the likes of unregulated betting companies that are based in places such as the Philippines are simply crazy.
“OK, you have a bet with them and it wins and you never get paid,” he said. “You’re just encouraged to bet on until it’s gone and, in contrast, if you owe them, they generally dangle you out of a high-rise building.”
With gambling on racing flourishing throughout Asia, the need to have a strong taskforce that can travel to countries with problems is a must, according to integrity officers.
“First, we’ve got to see the size and scale of the operation and then make those governments in those countries aware of how much money is being siphoned out of their gambling economy.
“They will be the very best integrity operators you can find. All will have a strong law enforcement background.”
Martin Purbrick, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s head of security and chairman of the taskforce, says the aim is to keep horse racing clean and help administrators understand how match-fixing works.
“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.
“However, 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.
“The ARF is resolute in combating this threat.”