03 Dec 1999 Pre-2014 Releases

Christopher Spence Calls For Government Action to Help Better Protect the Integrity of Racing

Published: 3 December 1999

In his speech to be given at the Gimcrack Dinner on Tuesday December 7th, Christopher Spence focuses on the future financing of British Racing and the need for Government to take steps to ensure the integrity of the sport is better protected by greater regulation of betting.

Christopher Spence says: “A key to the future commercial success of racing is that there must be a justified belief in the underlying integrity of the sport. That requires firm regulation, both of racing and of betting.”

“I do not believe the integrity of racing is under threats to which we cannot find the answers and I have no wish to be accused of scaremongering, but its vulnerability to criminal activity and corrupting influences through the betting it attracts needs to be addressed.”

In the speech he draws attention to the Jockey Club’s concerns about money laundering and illegal betting. He says that racing should be aware of the growth in the number of undesirable characters who own horses and of the temptations that are faced by those directly involved in the outcome of a race. He says that the Jockey Club will be looking at bringing forward its own proposals for dealing with matters within its own jurisdiction, but added that: “Tightening of regulation requires some co-operation from the betting industry.”

Christopher Spence reports that he has already written to the Chairmen of the Levy Board and BHB seeking their support for an united approach to the Home Office. It is the Jockey Club’s view that Government needs to address:

  • The under regulation of betting on horseracing in a similar way to the approach used when the Gaming Board was established.
  • Criminal law so that there is a realistic prospect of those who corrupt racing being brought to justice.
  • The request from the Jockey Club for access to criminal records to keep undesirables out of racing.

When looking at the future financing of racing, Christopher Spence comments on the recent Levy deal and says that “the problem is the system itself and not the people who operate it” and adds that in his view the current system is “incapable of delivering the quantum leap which we believe racing needs…”

He goes on to look at the other issues on which racing’s long-term finances depend, such as the Tote and the revenues which could be generated by the exploitation of picture and media rights. He welcomes “the initiative of the so-called Premier League of racecourses to examine all the opportunities to maximise their income by working together”, adding that it is essential “they work closely with BHB on copyright and fixture matters, and demonstrate that the fruits of any success are properly shared within racing generally.”