How the BHA protects the sport against inside information

14 Jan 20

Following a column in last week’s Racing Post as well as considerable public comment in recent days, the BHA’s Integrity department explains more about how the BHA protects the sport against the threat posed by inside information and the challenges with putting these efforts into the public domain.

There has been considerable comment, both in print and elsewhere, in the last week or so which relates to the use of inside information and the BHA’s alleged inaction in this area. Whilst we cannot comment on speculation around a potentially ongoing investigation, we feel it’s important to explain how much is done to protect the integrity of British racing in this area.

We have a nine-strong team of investigators, betting analysts, racing and betting monitors and intelligence analysts who form part of a larger proactive operations unit designed to tackle integrity threats to the sport.

This team have a wide breadth of experience including former gambling and racing industry professionals. In the wider Integrity department we have former police officers, home office investigators as well as former racing staff and licensed trainers.

What we all share is a passion for British racing and protecting its integrity allied with considerable experience of its betting markets and how they work.

Our team works to ensure there are real-time betting and racing monitors for close to every race in Britain. We monitor the exchange and fixed odds markets, the racing itself and are in constant real-time communication with the Stewards on course, also monitoring ante-post markets.

Should there be any market moves which cause us potential concern either before, during, or after a race there are a number of steps we can – and do – take. The way we work relies on the close working relationships that our team have with both betting exchanges and fixed odds bookmakers. Improving these relationships has been a real focus for us in recent years.

The details of bets and, providing the formal requirements are met the particulars of any bettor, which could be regarded as ‘unusual or suspicious’ on any race in Great Britain are available to the BHA subject to an official request. The suggestion that there is no realistic way of ascertaining whose bets have moved a market is incorrect. Our team make requests for betting checks from exchanges and bookmakers on a regular basis, often multiple times per day, as well as receiving regular proactive contact from the bookmakers themselves in accordance with the licence conditions imposed by the Gambling Commission.

Following last week’s events some have voiced concerns regarding the prevalence of the use of inside information within racing, and indeed the BHA’s powers to police the use of such information.

A great deal of our work is focused on the suspected use of inside information. Enquiring into possible links between bets/bettors and connections constitutes an important part of the work carried out by our team.

The challenge we face is that we cannot always put information relating to specific enquiries into the public domain, such as when we are asked by the media or by the public. This is because we cannot comment on ongoing investigations as this might negatively affect the investigation or may unfairly bring attention on individuals where a breach of the Rules of Racing hasn’t actually been committed.

Additionally, the BHA does not have “statutory powers” other than the obligation for bookmakers to assist us fully in carrying out our investigations as enshrined in Condition15 of the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice.

The BHA as a Sports governing body has the right to command co-operation in betting related enquiries from licensed participants, but those not licensed must do so voluntarily. In these cases the only power at our disposal is to exclude unlicensed persons from the sport, which has been authorised on 15 occasions since last September – details are available on the BHA website. We are working hard to encourage the Gambling Commission to work with the BHA to bring prosecutions against unlicensed individuals who might try to corrupt our sport from the outside. 

We would like to assure the public and our participants that any time we have concerns regarding betting patterns and the possible use of inside information, we act to investigate further. It doesn’t matter if these are high-profile events and we do not wait to be contacted before taking action – we are proactively investigating unusual or suspicious behaviour in the markets on a near-constant basis. We encourage members of the public and of course, all of our licensed participants to provide any information or to contact us with any concerns. This can either be done directly to the BHA Integrity Department or via our anonymous reporting line RaceStraight on 0800 085 2580. 

If you feel that we are not interested in inside information or the damage it can cause to those who work in, bet on and follow British racing – we can assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth.