07 Oct 2003 Pre-2014 Releases

Peter Savill today called on Government urgently to set up an Independent Commission of Inquiry into Betting Exchanges, emphasising that issues surrounding exchanges were of†_x001C_critical importanc?_x001D_.

In a speech entitled “The Impact of Betting Exchanges on Horseracing”, made at a London conference on UK Gambling Laws organised by IBC, the BHB Chairman said that “nothing less than the future of one of Britain’s most prestigious sports and industries and one of the greatest contributors to Government revenues is at stake”.

He pointed out that the Australian Government had been prompted to set up a National Task Force and said that Britain should do likewise, proposing that the Commission should investigate the impact of Betting Exchanges on the integrity of sport, on British Racing’s finances and on Government revenues.

The BHB Chairman said:

“It is hard not to conclude that there are unresolved issues relating to Betting Exchanges. The issue of their legality has been left in limbo; the status of what constitutes bookmaking remains unresolved; the correct nature of their regulation seems to be unclear and the plans for regulating them even less clear; their threat to integrity has not been properly reviewed; their impact on Racing’s finances has been ignored by the Levy Board and the charging mechanism by which revenues are raised by both the Levy Board and Government is fickle to say the least.”

He also stated: “Betting Exchanges have, for the first time ever, suddenly and immediately enfranchised 30 million plus people in Britain to make money out of horses losing races. Previously there were only 3,791 people – the number of on and off course bookmakers with permits who had passed the fit and proper person test – who were so enfranchised. But when you add to that 30 million figure every other person in the world with the desire to make money out of horses in Britain losing races – including, possibly, Brian Wright in Cyprus, illegal Far East bookmakers and even organised crime – you have to wonder whether the decision was reached after appropriate research and analysis.”

He also set out some personal views on the way forward, including that, if Betting Exchanges are to be allowed to continue, the number of people who should be permitted to make money out of horses losing races in Great Britain should be severely restricted and limited only to those people who are in possession of a Bookmaker’s Permit, which means that they have proved themselves to be a fit and proper person.

“Not only would this resolve the issue of the legality of exchanges and the status of layers, but it would also more easily define the necessary regulation required, dramatically reduce the threat to integrity and would, at a stroke, bring all layers on exchanges within the same legal, tax and levy structure as traditional off-course bookmakers,” he said.