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'The Challenges Facing British Racing: Problems at the Betting Exchange'

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Introduction

'The Challenges Facing British Racing: Problems at the Betting Exchange' After a recent spate of horse races have been referred to the Jockey Club concerning controversial rides, questions have arisen over the regulations of betting exchanges. A betting exchange is an on-line betting medium where punters bet against each other, and have the option of backing or laying. The exchange acts as a broker and takes out a commission for providing the service. These exchanges are the most revolutionary phenomenon to hit betting since the opening of betting shops and have only been made feasible by the growth in internet activity. Concerns begin over racing's integrity, with the fact that certain individuals have the ability to act as a bookmaker without any sort of permit. Many fear that the betting exchange system, which offers profit simply from a horse getting beaten, is too open to abuse and exploitation. In one tragic case a horse named Hawk Flyer was seen to run lame at the gallops before the 2003 St Leger and was subsequently destroyed, but not before its ante-post price had moved from 15-8 to 40-1 on the exchanges. ...read more.

Middle

in advance of the race that the performance of their horse is being closely watched. The UK Minister for Gambling Andrew McIntosh, is proposing new controls that would allow the soon-to-be-established Gambling Commission to freeze and void bets where punters may have been fleeced: "Exchanges do provide the opportunity for those with 'inside information' acquired improperly to make a profit from the uninformed punter." This obviously requires the government to intervene and to set new regulations to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. A position paper, published by the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which reflects current thinking ahead of the reform of gambling legislation, has given the clearest signal yet, that the UK Government is prepared to wholly embrace the concept of betting exchanges. The paper proposes that exchanges should be subject to three main regulatory objectives. Firstly, any exchange should offer fairness to the consumer. Secondly, it should offer protection to the vulnerable such as children and new account holders. Finally, keeping crime out of any backing or laying activity. On the question of keeping criminal elements at bay, the paper contends that this will be achieved through personal licensing and examination of companies during the operational licensing procedure. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is wrong to single out one section of the punting population for special treatment, and thereby allow customers freely to do something on one occasion which would require them to be licensed on another. The problems over betting exchanges clearly need to ironed out by the Government in partnership with the British Horseracing Board. The problems they could cause to horseracing in terms of adverse publicity need to be avoided. Intense scrutiny needs to be employed whenever signs of unfair practice arise. Extra caution needs to be taken over any account which has opted out of sharing personal details especially when high stakes are involved. The activity of personnel linked closely to racing such as jockeys and trainers also needs to be severely limited to prevent race fixing cases appearing so regularly. If these regulatory objectives can be successfully implemented within exchange betting on the internet than I feel that it has, as a betting medium, the opportunity to become a highly favoured betting method for the majority of punters. This would force high street bookmakers into offering the punter better prices in order to retain custom. Furthermore, the popularity of horseracing globally could only benefit. Daniel Walton Page ...read more.

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