Racing Australia, the governing body for Australia’s thoroughbred racing, is set to introduce strict new rules to tackle illegal offshore betting operators.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the new laws apply to anyone bound by the rules of Australian racing, mainly trainers and owners, and could see electronic devices examined and confiscated if they are found to be wagering on illegal sites.
It follows a review in 2015, which led to the tightening of the Interactive Gambling Act last year, and ultimately forced online poker operators such as PokerStars to exit the market.
The illegal offshore markets have attracted bettors under the guise of anonymity and the promise of better odds. The offshore market is expected to be worth around AU$900m (US$664.8m) by 2020, which costs not only legal operators, but the racing industry itself, as they do not contribute race-field fees.
“The illegal offshore wagering market is a scourge on Australian racing,” said Executive Director of Responsible Wagering Australia, Stephen Conroy.
“RWA’s members work hand-in-glove with racing bodies to protect the sport’s integrity but illegal offshore websites continue to actively target and undermine Australian racing every day. More than AU$1.3bn of gambling activity is going offshore from Australia every year, denuding racing authorities of millions of dollars in product fees, hitting prize money, sponsorship and track and training facilities.”
The new laws, which will come into effect on 1 August, mirror those seen in Victoria, with Racing Australia broadening the laws to include every principal racing authority in the country.