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Illegal Asian betting markets a 'significant threat' to British racing

Brant Dunshea: BHA chief regulatory officer
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Threats from illegal online gambling operators, usually based overseas in unregulated jurisdictions, have overtaken concerns about traditional lay betting with regulated exchanges, according to the BHA's chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea.

In a panel discussion on illegal betting markets on the second day of the Asian Racing Conference in Cape Town on Thursday, Dunshea said: "The BHA is very fortunate to have established some very mature bet-monitoring systems, but we have seen a change in recent years, because simple cases of corrupt practices linked to lay betting are very rarely seen within the regulated markets.

"That's caused us to look further afield and we now know there is activity on British racing in unregulated, illegal, Asian markets, where tens of thousands of pounds can be matched in lay offers on our racing. We have no access to information, but it is a significant threat for us."

Dunshea, a member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club-driven, Asian Racing Federation anti-illegal betting taskforce, which also includes former BHA betting analyst Tom Chignell, added: "It's important for us globally to share this message and help other jurisdictions understand the threat this poses to the sport. We should think collectively about what we can do to get the messages across to governments and other agencies."

More immediately, the BHA will be taking up the theme with the government, which has promised to launch a review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Dunshea said: "It's a global theme that governments are placing significant focus on problem gambling, and while the UK review is primarily driven by this and social harm issues, we see it as an incredible opportunity to lobby government about the risks that gambling in illegal markets pose for racing and other sports.

"We will make submissions that not only address the issue of problem gambling but also highlight the connection between that and the illegal markets. As a racing regulator, that's where we need to focus our attention by drawing the connection between the impact of illegal markets and potential reform that the government may introduce."

Although the BHA has not been able to quantify accurately the size of the illegal market on racing in the UK, its general concern mirrors that of the new standards body the Betting and Gaming Council.

The BGC recently released details of an analysis showing that 38 per cent of queries about key gambling terms on major search engines were to unlicensed black-market operators and an estimated 200,000 people in the UK had used illegal gambling sites in the past 12 months.

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That’s caused us to look farther afield and we now know there is activity on British racing in unregulated, illegal, Asian markets
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