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UK Bookmakers, Jockey Club Consider MOU

15 January 2004

Traditional bookmakers in the United Kingdom are negotiating with the U.K. Jockey Club to establish a memorandum of understanding that would allow the Jockey Club's security department to access bettor records when a breach of racing rules is suspected.

Individual bookmakers and spokespersons for the Association of British Bookmakers have declined to comment on the exact terms of the agreement, but it is likely that a memorandum similar to an existing agreement between the Jockey Club and betting exchanges will be in place within a few weeks.

The Jockey Club entered into a memorandum of understanding in June with betting exchanges Betfair and Sporting Options, due to concerns over betting exchanges threatening the integrity of racing. Unlike traditional bookmakers, exchanges allow punters to bet on horses to lose, which has given rise to the fear that jockeys, trainers or others with inside information could collect huge winnings by betting that an ill or injured horse will lose. Worse yet, the insider could bet a horse to lose and then intentionally throw the race.

Bookmakers, however, have until now resisted signing a memorandum with the Jockey Club, insisting that their customers' rights to privacy must not be violated. After all, they argue, the bookmakers have been operating for years without much significant threat to racing's integrity. It was not until the emergence of the new betting exchange system that widespread concern for the fairness of race betting became an issue.

The terms of Betfair's and Sporting Option's agreements with the club dictate that the exchanges will only reveal punter information when there is a reasonable cause for concern. Requests for information must be authorized by the Jockey Club's security and investigations committee, which according to Jockey Club executive director Christopher Foster, includes independent representation and expertise in criminal law.

The Club's director of security, Paul Scotney, maintains that punters' information will not be abused.

"This doesn't mean that anyone who goes into a bookmaker's is going to have to hand their name over," Scotney said. "It's about revealing the identity of people who are committing offenses such as deception and fraud, and if they've got people committing those offenses, then they will reveal their details."

He added, "It's only a very small minority of people who are involved, but where there's money there's going to be wrongdoing. Over the last few years it has been very easy to throw allegations around but it's been very difficult to prove anything. This is all part of the picture I'm trying to build up, to ensure that we catch those people who break the rules of racing."

The Jockey Club has already pursued a handful of investigations into cases of suspicious betting, and on Sept. 1 the organization passed new rules prohibiting anyone with a vested interest in any race from laying a horse.

The club has formally brought charges against Miles Rodgers, a racing club director who is suspected of laying some of his club's horses on Betfair, an act which if proven could ban him from racing for up to 10 years. Betfair is thought to have given the Jockey Club much assistance in providing evidence against Rodgers.

At least one bookmaker, Ladbrokes, seems quite optimistic about the memorandum's future. Ladbrokes worldwide chief executive, Chris Bell, said, "I am very pleased with the development of the memorandum Of understanding. Ladbrokes has been working on this for a year and it formalizes existing best practice. It should be seen in conjunction with Ladbrokes' training of Jockey Club staff on betting terminology and technology that is already underway. I look forward to even closer collaboration with the Jockey Club in pursuit of our joint interest in the integrity of racing."

UK Bookmakers, Jockey Club Consider MOU is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com