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Kevin Smith

UK Sports Minister and Head of BHB Want More Betting Exchange Discussion

14 November 2003

Key government authorities and horseracing industry leaders in the UK reached an important agreement this week that could create a hindrance to the future of betting exchanges in the region.

The Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn, and the Chairman of the British Horseracing Board (BHB), Peter Savill, met on Tuesday and agreed that both would recommend to the Gambling Bill Joint Scrutiny Committee, which will meet soon to discuss the future of betting exchanges, that it focus a major part of its discussion on the potential impact on the integrity of sports.

The government is currently undergoing a massive overhaul of gambling laws that will change all aspects of the industry, from betting exchanges and land based casinos to online casinos and tax schemes.

The future of betting exchanges still remains in question and the latest move from the BHB is a clear signal that many in racing are still opposed to the exchange concept.

In a statement released earlier this week Caborn said he and Savill want to see some major issue addressed before any measure becomes law.

"Preservation of the integrity of any sport is paramount and I share Peter Savill’s view that there are potential threats and that they need to be properly looked at," he said. "The Joint Scrutiny Committee is one vehicle for this and I shall be encouraging the Committee in this direction."

Some in racing want to establish a Committee of Inquiry to further study the issue of exchanges and how they fit into the new gambling bill, but Caborn said he is against that until the Scrutiny Committee is allowed to look into the issue later this year and during the first quarter of 2004.

Savill said he is concerned about the integrity of sport when a betting exchange is used, but also said that effective regulation and policing can go a long way in helping the issue. He expressed his concerns to Caborn during their meeting.

"I emphasized racing’s desire to be satisfied that these concerns are thoroughly and independently analyzed so that appropriate measures can be introduced into the Gambling Bill and by racing itself to combat any problems which are shown to exist," he said. "That this review is done effectively is more important than the precise method by which it is done."

Caborn’s support of the issue came after the BHB received a cold shoulder from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport after asking it to study the issue further before including betting exchange reform in the Gambling Bill.

Savill expressed his concern at exchanges having "enfranchised over 30 million people in Britain to make money out of horses losing races" and he cited an "increasing number of suspicious incidents" linked to horses drifting on the exchanges. The Scrutiny Committee’s chairman, Tory MP John Greenway, said he is looking forward to Cabron looking into the issue.

"Betting exchanges are a major issue and we are glad to have the minister’s confirmation that he will look at the evidence in the New Year," he said. Last month, Clive Hawkswood, head of the Betting and Racing Team at the DCMS, made clear his opposition to Savill's call for an independent commission. "We have looked at gambling regulation for a long time, and ministers have approved our findings," he said.

UK Sports Minister and Head of BHB Want More Betting Exchange Discussion is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith