HK Jockey Club exec says illegal betting could "kill the sport"

By Harrison Sayers

Hong Kong Jockey Club’s security and integrity chief, Martin Purbrick, has warned industry leaders in South East Asia of the rising amount of illegal wagers in the region and what needs to be done to address the issue.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club as a group has contributed more tax than anyone else in the whole of Hong Kong and can also boast of being the largest community contributor in the region since its establishment in 1884.

Amongst the major concerns and claims discussed during Purbrick’s ‘Anti-Illegal betting and money laundering’ discussion was what he referred to as a “tsunami” of illegal sports wagering that could potentially “kill the sport” of horse racing if governments do not intervene on the manner.

The problem lies with the fact that as more punters use unregulated sites and other illegal gambling operations, revenue for groups such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which operates as a non profit organisation, lose out. In turn this means that there is less available funding for horse racing.

Purbrick also gave an update on the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce, which has been studying activities in Australia, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand.

The IFHA Taskforce update claimed that during 2016 over $2.6bn was raised through illegal gambling activities. The vast sum is cause for concern as it is growing at twice the rate of legal gambling in the investigated areas.

Purbrick then outlined the Jockey Club’s strategy to combat the rising tide of illegal wagers stating: “In the next several months the Anti-Illegal Betting 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.”

Purbrick made his statement in Seoul, South Korea, during the 37th Asian Racing Conference in front of other prominent members of the surrounding regions horse racing communities.

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