Illegal betting is a ‘major threat to the integrity of racing’

A comprehensive new report on the state of international illegal betting has revealed a marked increase in the number of punters using black market bookmakers, who outnumber licensed and regulated online operators by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1.

The State of Illegal Betting study, carried out by the Asian Racing Federation assessing global betting markets, highlighted how the proliferation of unlicensed or unregulated businesses presented “major threats to the integrity of racing and other sports, the growth of transnational organized crime and the evils of gambling”. to customers.”

The publication of the 94-page document comes as punters, the betting industry and racing in Britain await the publication of the government’s white paper on the Gambling Act review of 2005, which could impose controls draconian financial accessibility for betting individuals, requiring them to hand over sensitive personal data such as bank statements and payslips to be approved for betting, potentially triggered by a net monthly loss as low as £100.

There are growing fears that such restrictions could drive more punters into the dangerous and unregulated market, while UK racing estimates such controls could cost the sport up to £100million a year.

The report also follows an investigation by the Racing Post which revealed the ease of locating and registering on black market betting sites, their non-existent player protection systems, the ability to bet with them via card loans and the use of “personal managers”. to encourage regular heavy betting to unlock unspecified “bonuses”.

Register for

Of the 534 betting websites analyzed by the ARF, 61% were found to be unlicensed or licensed and unregulated, meaning the operator had a gambling license from an offshore jurisdiction, such as Curacao, but only to allow bets to be taken from outside. this location, with online traffic to these sites growing at nearly double the rate of licensed and regulated operators (64% vs. 36%).

The ARF also found that 40% (105) of the 262 most popular global websites were either unregulated or unlicensed, rising to 47% of the 93 randomly selected global sites in the initial sample of 534.

ARF’s analysis of the 20 most popular betting sites found that 16 were licensed and regulated, which “underlines that punters prefer to bet with licensed and regulated operators where possible and if the operator is not over-regulated to the point where it cannot compete with under-regulated and unregulated operators.”

However, the ARF added that, freed from regulatory oversight, black market operations were more nimble and aggressive in targeting bettors, advertising on sites carrying pirated sports streams, pornography, via media social services and “directly to customers with gambling problems”.

The report continues: “Global online betting demand continues to accelerate faster than some stakeholders’ understanding of key issues.

“Clearly, this rapid growth of operators disregarding the best practices of licensed and regulated betting operators has significant negative impacts on society with respect to problem gambling, sporting integrity and financial crime.”

Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, president of the ARF, said the purpose of the report was to enlighten people on the realities and scope of the global black market.

He said: “The report is intended to assist government policy makers, regulators, law enforcement officials and those involved in the governance and management of racing and other sports, as well as people in industries of racing and betting, to understand the current scale, extent and damage to society caused by illegal betting and related financial crime.

“Licensed and well-regulated betting operators provide essential financial support to the sport of racing through levies, betting fees and other support payments. The report highlights that the globalized growth of illegal betting poses major threats to the integrity of racing and other sports, the growth of transnational organized crime, and the damage caused by gambling to patrons.

“It is clearer than ever that illegal betting is a major global social problem that requires continued attention.”

The ARF has also raised concerns about the use of so-called white label websites, where the technology for running a betting website is provided by a third party, with the operator limiting itself to the brand and the marketing his business, as well as looking for people to bet on. this.

The report says such arrangements allow “operators of dubious origin to create ‘licensed’ betting websites” and increase “threats to betting integrity”, citing the example of Viking Hoard, who was found to be doped with a tranquilizer during the race at Tramore in 2018 having been fired for a substantial sum via an individual using a white label website.

Martin Purbrick, Chairman of the ARF’s Council on Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, said: “This report provides the most comprehensive overview of illegal betting as a major threat to the integrity of racing and other sports, as a challenge to effective regulation of legal betting (which is obscured by licensing countries falsely claiming to have international coverage), as a criminal justice issue as organized crime groups profit from illegal betting, and as a social problem causing a bigger gambling problem.”

In response to the Racing Post’s investigations into the black market, a spokesperson for the Gambling Commission said: “We recognize the concerns that exist around the black market, but maintain our position, this must be balanced with the risks in the industry. regulated gambling and will therefore continue to maintain our escalation approach which includes disruption and enforcement.

“The commission not only continues to actively engage, but also to build relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the UK as well as overseas, an activity that will continue.”

Comments are closed.