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How China's Crackdown on Illegal Betting Impacts Global Betting Markets

September 1, 2021

This report examines Mainland China’s crackdown on illegal betting from 2018 to mid-2021, its background, purpose and impact. It is based on official announcements and statistics, 315 Mainland Chinese media articles related to illegal betting, and English-language reports. The report details:

  • Why China is so concerned about illegal betting
  • Insights into the scale of the problem
  • The crackdown’s impact on wider illegal betting in Asia
  • Notable shared characteristics of illegal betting operations
  • Why China’s crackdown is relevant to other jurisdictions

A Report of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies in Illegal Betting

May 1, 2021

This report explains how and why cryptocurrencies have become increasingly prevalent in illegal betting, and highlights the threats this poses.

A Report of Illegal Betting Growth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 1, 2021

This report examines the impact of the pandemic on illegal betting in Asia in 2020 and finds that COVID-19 caused a surge in illegal betting, and has caused disruption and changes in customer behaviour that will continue to be felt even after the pandemic subsides.

Good Practices in Addressing Illegal Betting: A Handbook for Racing and Sports Organisations to Uphold Integrity

October 19, 2020

This Handbook highlights the risks to the integrity of horse racing and other sports from illegal betting-related sports corruption, and provides practical guidance to administrators and other key stakeholders for mitigating against and combatting such corruption.

Practical guidance in the Handbook includes an overview of major issues around illegal betting, how to conduct bet monitoring and betting analysis, intelligence gathering and analysis, how to conduct illegal betting investigations, and how to engage stakeholders to combat illegal betting and related corruption.

Illegal Betting in an Asian Context

December 18, 2018

This paper covers illegal betting markets in six ARF jurisdictions. Although these jurisdictions are different in many ways, key commonalities were found in relation to illegal betting:

  • it funds organised crime,
  • it harms society directly and indirectly, and
  • it is a threat to sporting integrity.

This paper provides insights into the scale and nature of these negative impacts.

Quarterly Bulletins

The ARF Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime produces a quarterly newsletter advising stakeholders about the latest developments in illegal betting and financial crime threatening horse racing and other sports. Each bulletin contains one or two articles on key issues, and new research in this area and analysis of implications for regulators, sports governing bodies and other stakeholders, as well as a curated list of important news articles in the field.

October 2021

October 27, 2021

In this bulletin, Professor Sally Gainsbury, Director of Gambling Treatment & Research Clinic at the University of Sydney, shares research finding which looks into how legitimate websites, regulators and authorities can use behavioural science to steer customers away from illegal operators, and also explores factors that caused a person to pick one gambling website over another.

July 2021

July 1, 2021

This edition of the Quarterly Bulletin highlights two important issues related to illegal betting that have wider relevance to integrity in horse racing and other sports.

ARF Council Member Tim Robinson highlights an important case study in Australia where Racing Victoria collaborated with the Victoria Police to protect the integrity of their racing.

ARF Council Member Brant Dunshea explains the increased use of unauthorised drones intruding onto racecourses.

May 2021

May 1, 2021

The issue of use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the betting industry is critical as illegal betting operators move quickly to adapt to new technologies and regulatory loopholes/grey areas, leading to an advantage in illegal markets over legal betting markets. Unregulated cryptocurrencies are a fundamental threat to legal, licensed, regulated betting markets as they allow customers to play anonymously and operators to avoid Anti-Money Laundering procedures. The legal betting industry as well as credible regulators need to urgently cooperate to ensure that effective regulatory structures and processes are developed in order to avoid cryptocurrencies benefitting the growth of the illegal betting markets, and in doing so further funding transnational organised crime groups.

January 2021

January 1, 2021

In this edition, Graham Ashton explains why horse racing is ideally placed to help protect sports integrity and prevent organised criminality from infiltrating sport. As a former commissioner of police who established one of the first law enforcement sports integrity units, Graham is well placed to explain why horse racing has matured with the inter-relationship between its product and betting, and led the development of sports anti-corruption measures.

Also, James Porteous, Council Secretary, gives an overview of our new publication, Good Practices in Addressing Illegal Betting: A Handbook for Horse Racing and Other Sports to Uphold Integrity. All of the members of the Council have collaborated to compile this essential guide to protecting integrity in horse racing and other sports from corruption caused by illegal betting.

October 2020

October 1, 2020

In this bulletin, Professor Jack Anderson, Director of Studies, Sports Law, at the University of Melbourne provides a summary of a study conducted for Harness Racing Victoria which shows the positive impact on horse racing and other sports of integrity units.

July 2020

July 1, 2020

In this first bulletin, we outline changes in the betting markets resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and what this may mean for betting on horse racing and sports in the longer term.

Videos

The Asian Racing Federation's Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime launched “Good Practices in Addressing Illegal Betting: A Handbook for Horse Racing and Other Sports to Protect Integrity” (the Handbook).

The Handbook combines a wealth of expertise and experience from Council members with in-depth research. It has been developed based on leading practices in the racing and betting industry, and has been shaped to assist horse racing and other sports to address particular challenges of illegal betting.

Panelists:

Martin Purbrick, Chairperson, ARF Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, and former Director of Security and Integrity at The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Douglas Robinson, Deputy Chairperson, ARF Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, and Executive Manager, Due Diligence and Research at The Hong Kong Jockey Club

James Porteous, Research Head, ARF Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, and Due Diligence and Research Manager at The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Tom Chignell, Member, ARF Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, and Executive Manager, Racing Integrity and Betting Analysis at The Hong Kong Jockey Club

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Mr. Douglas Robinson, Deputy Chairman, Asian Racing Federation (ARF) Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce, and Senior Due Diligence and Research Manager, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, warned of the “war” racing faces against illegal betting as he moderated Plenary Session 5 on Thursday afternoon at the 38th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) in Cape Town, South Africa.

The session had the title, For Racing’s Integrity, and Engaging Government Agencies: the Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce, and immediately followed on from and complemented the morning’s Protecting Racing's Integrity session.

“As Stephen Wise said during the opening session,” Mr Robinson observed, “we are all at war with other sports for customers – I would add that, not only do we all face a war against other sports – we also face a war against a rampant illegal betting market which is also doing its utmost to channel customers away from racing’s product offerings.”

Mr. Robinson further advised delegates of the enormity of the task at hand as the session focused on the status of anti-illegal betting, highlighted the work that the ARF Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce has done to combat illegal betting, detailed its engagement with government agencies and outlined the impending release of a handbook on ‘Good Practices in Addressing Illegal Betting - A Handbook for Racing and Sports Organisations to Uphold Integrity’.

“Combating the issue of illegal betting however is not a simple job given its dynamic, transnational and online nature. The scale of illegal betting is now so huge, and its operations spread across so many different countries, that horse racing and sports organisations alone cannot effectively combat the threat from illegal betting, nor can law enforcement agencies take enough effective action against them by themselves.

“So racing and sports must now engage with multiple stakeholders in order to effectively tackle the issue – a point recently reflected in a yet-to-be-published United Nations resolution under the umbrella of the UN Convention against Corruption,” Mr. Robinson said.

Mr. Robinson was joined by fellow Taskforce members Mr. Tom Chignell, Mr. Brant Dunshea and Mr. Tim Robinson as details of how illegal betting continues to corrupt horse racing, how this damage can be mitigated and why stakeholder engagement – specifically engagement with government stakeholders – is key when tackling the issue of illegal betting.

The Federation’s Anti-illegal betting Taskforce was set up in 2016 and now comprises 14 members from a diverse range of geographies as well as jurisdictions and has produced a white paper – based on extensive research into illegal betting markets across six horse racing jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea and Singapore.

“This research looked to highlight the scale and severity of illegal betting, as well as the associated problems caused by illegal betting across Asia,” Mr. Douglas Robinson explained.

The conference was told that illegal betting markets were large and expanding faster than regulated betting markets; that their existence causes other associated criminal activity (including money laundering and loan sharking) and that they have a large negative social impact on their customers.

“At the top of the stakeholders list is government, primarily because they control and direct policy against illegal betting at a strategic level, and also direct action against illegal betting from a tactical standpoint,” Mr. Douglas Robinson said.

While he conceded that it was difficult to have government understand and support measures for racing to tackle illegal betting there were several significant points which had to be reinforced.
1. Potential loss of tax and/or other revenue from existence of illegal betting operations.
2. The negative impact of illegal betting – versus regulated betting which typically has responsible gambling policies in place – has on society.
3. The impact that illegal betting has on inducing society’s youth to bet, both underage and illegally.
4. The associated criminal activity that illegal betting causes within society, chief among these being money laundering.
5. The infiltration of this criminal activity by organised criminal groups, which induces other criminal activity to occur.
Mr. Chignell, ARF Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce Member and Executive Manager, Racing Integrity & Betting Analysis, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, reported that Citibet and other illegal betting operators are a significant threat to horse racing integrity.

“The greatest betting integrity threat to racing is jockeys or trainers stopping horses from winning and profiting by betting on those horses to lose. Citibet and other illegal operators do not report suspicious betting or breaches of the rules of racing. Licensed betting operators in well-regulated jurisdictions do share valuable information with racing authorities and have built good relationships. We are also now seeing emerging threats from illegal crypto currency-based betting operators with racing as their primary product.”

Mr. Chignell identified that in-house integrity units have three key areas - bet monitoring of legal and illegal markets, intelligence functions and investigation capabilities – and these are vital to combatting the threat.

Mr. Dunshea, ARF Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce Member and Chief Regulatory Officer at the British Horseracing Authority, looked at the issue from a European and global perspective. “In Europe the threat Asian illegal betting markets can cause for horse racing is not well understood – there is a limited awareness and/or a ‘head in sand’ mentality, possibly due to the culturally different environment in which European horse racing operates.

“Education and or a better understanding is required in order to overcome this threat. One method of doing this is ‘cross-pollinating’ other racing integrity bodies in order to gain a critical mass of racing integrity intelligence knowledge, as well as standardising methodologies and approaches to combating racing integrity threats,“ Dunshea said.

Mr. Tim Robinson, ARF Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce Member and General Manager, Intelligence and Integrity Services, Racing Victoria, highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach.

“Government engagement (and indeed wider stakeholder engagement) is key at multiple levels in order to mitigate this threat to racing. What we see in Australia is that such engagement has been engendered by the government including the setting up of dedicated Sports Integrity Units (SIUs) at state, as well as at federal level, which are properly resourced and technically capable to monitor for, and identify betting-related integrity lapses.

“The steps include the creation of a specific commission to ensure sports integrity in Australia and the founding of a federal level Sports-betting Integrity Unit to examine issues relating to sports betting integrity breaches. Establishing effective cooperation between racing and regulated betting operators and all levels (state, national and international) law enforcement agencies in order to take action when a breach has occurred; the set-up of the Black Economy Task Force and the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) which was recently mandated to increase its activity against online illegal betting operators.”

However, Mr. Tim Robinson said challenges remain. “There are many agencies in Australia in place to combat sport corruption, but getting them to engage in two-way dialogue and talk to all others (as well as take appropriate action when necessary/required) is the challenge that we all face- as well as better educating people to understand the size and scale of the illegal betting problem.”

The consensus clearly, among the Taskforce members, was that a multi-agency approach is requited to address the serious problem of illegal betting.

For more information on the 38th ARC, visit www.arcsa2020.com

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Illegal betting on thoroughbred racing is, and will continue to be, a major threat to the integrity and financial health of racing. The interrelationship between illegal betting, money laundering and criminality is of concern to the racing industry and governments alike.

This session provides an in-depth look at the latest developments in the response by regulators to the threat of money laundering, including a review of recent scandals which have impacted major financial institutions in the Asian region.

In addition, the Asian Racing Federation’s groundbreaking Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce, which was established following the 36th Asian Racing Conference, presents on the important work it has carried out to date.

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