13 Sep 2000 Pre-2014 Releases

Jockey Club`s Submission to the Gambling Review Body

Published: 13 September 2000

The Jockey Club’s submission to the Gambling Review Body presses for changes to the criminal law in relation to horseracing and for greater regulation of betting. The key recommendation in the submission is that a single Regulatory body be appointed to regulate all gambling.

Speaking on the submission to the Gambling Review Body, Christopher Spence, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, said: “We have been guided by the view that a key to the future commercial success of horseracing is that there must be a justified belief in the underlying integrity of the sport.

“British horseracing deserves its reputation for staging racing which is straight and honest. Actual cases of corruption or attempts at race fixing are rare but, as with any sport where there is betting, racing is vulnerable to criminal activity. Indeed, horseracing and betting are inextricably linked and both require firm regulation.”

Meanwhile, recommendations put forward by the Jockey Club’s Integrity Review Committee for changes to racing’s existing Rules and Instructions are currently subject to consultation with the interested parties and will be considered by the Stewards of the Jockey Club in the autumn.

Christopher Spence, continued: “As a result of our own review of integrity measures we aim to ensure that, through self-help, every possible step is taken by racing to deter, detect and deal with potential corruption. However, the Jockey Club believes that to maximise the deterrents statutory help is required, both in amendments to the criminal law and by the introduction of firmer regulation of betting. These recommendations to the Gambling Review Body are designed to improve the protection of the integrity of horseracing for the long term.”

Summary of the recommendations to the Gambling Review Body.

The Jockey Club recommends that:

1. A single Regulatory body be appointed by statute to regulate all gambling and assume responsibility for the licensing of bookmakers.

2. Betting organisations should have a duty to provide information to the Regulatory body concerning betting activity on particular events under scrutiny.

3. The relationships between betting organisations and persons able to affect the outcome of sporting events be regulated.

4. Betting organisations be required to adopt money laundering compliance regulations.

5. The regulatory functions of the National Joint Pitch Council (NJPC) are passed to the new Regulatory body for gambling.

6. A formal ‘gateway’ be established between the new Regulatory body for gambling and the Jockey Club, the Regulator for horseracing, for the passing of information relevant to investigations or enquiries into malpractice.

7. More substantive criminal offences be introduced directly related to criminal
behaviour in sport and related betting, for example:
(i) The doping of a racehorse or a greyhound;
(ii) Bribery of sports participants or officials;
(iii) Corruption in connection with horseracing and other sports events, or in connection with betting on horseracing or other sports events.

8. A dedicated Police unit be established to cover gambling matters and corruption in sport.

9. The Jockey Club should have access to ‘full’ criminal records.

10. A transparent system for the compilation of SPs is enforced and an independent audit system is introduced.

Background information: Why racing is vulnerable and the need for greater regulation of betting

The Jockey Club is concerned about the vulnerability of horseracing to criminal behaviour and other undesirable activity as a consequence of betting, and the submission to the Gambling Review Body makes the case for greater regulation of betting and changes to the criminal law so as to maintain the public’s confidence in the integrity of the sport. Principal concerns stem from the fact that, by comparison with other forms of gaming and gambling, the business of bookmaking (including spread betting) is under-regulated and lacks the necessary measures to deter corruption and thus renders racing vulnerable to malpractice.

There is evidence that betting and racing are being used for money laundering purposes. The Police have indicated that there is some corruption within racing by criminals and that illegal betting, to the detriment of both Government and racing revenues, is being carried out on a large scale.

Bearing in mind the vulnerabilities of horseracing to malpractice through its inter-relationship with betting, the Jockey Club considered the problems experienced by the gaming industry in the 1960’s. Documents now available at the Public Records Office reveal that the concerns expressed by the Police and others in advice to Ministers at that time, which led directly to the 1968 Act, echo in many respects similar problems now facing sports betting.

It is the Jockey Club’s view that, in order to avoid the experiences of the past, there are strong arguments on the setting of standards and consistency of approach to support the contention that all forms of gambling activity should be regulated by one authority.

Recent Police enquiries into racing and betting matters have highlighted difficulties both for the Police and the Jockey Club in obtaining the necessary evidence to bring suspects before the courts. The fact that the Jockey Club’s Investigating Officers have limited powers is compounded by the fact that the Police generally have little experience in making enquiries on betting related matters which are analogous to serious and complex fraud cases. At the same time there is growing public concern about alleged betting related corruption in sports like cricket, football and snooker. All this lends weight to the argument that there should be a specialist Police unit to investigate betting and gaming crimes and alleged corruption in sport.

It is also apparent that criminals and illegal layers actively attempt to cultivate jockeys, trainers and stable employees with a view to obtaining information about horses, particularly those that are unlikely to win (whether for valid reasons or through malpractice.)

Illegal betting is by definition a threat to the integrity of the sport. It also has the effect of depriving the industry and the Government of revenues. In its various forms, illegal betting usually attracts criminals and the participation of individuals who would not be licensed in the normal manner as bookmakers. Illegal betting can provide a focus for money laundering. A major bookmaking organisation estimates that the level of illegal bookmaking in the United Kingdom is currently in excess of £1billion per year.

In its own licensing role, the Jockey Club exercises a function in the public interest which is comparable to a similar function exercised by the Gaming Board. It is not just desirable, it is essential that anyone approved by the Jockey Club should be of a high standard of probity. It is for these reasons that the Jockey Club seeks to ensure that anyone to whom it grants a licence or registration is fit and proper. This objective is currently hampered by the Jockey Club’s lack of access to criminal records in respect of those it licenses, grants registrations or employs.

Notes for Editors:

1. The Jockey Club’s submission to the Gambling Review was based on work carried out by the Integrity Review Committee.

2. Chronology of events:- Integrity Review Committee and