Illegal Crypto-Bookmakers Pose Risk to Integrity of Hong Kong Horse Racing

The rise in unregulated cryptocurrency betting markets poses a threat to the integrity of horse racing in Asia. So warned Hong Kong Jockey Club’s executive director of racing integrity and betting analysis, Tom Chignell, at the Asian Racing Conference in Cape Town.

As reported in the South China Morning Post, Feb. 21, the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency gambling platforms potentially opens the door to race-fixing.

Unregulated betting markets require greater scrutiny

Cryptocurrency has purportedly fuelled a vastly expanding gambling market, with some operators specializing in offering fixed-odds betting on horse races around the globe.

In the legal regulated market there are established reporting channels, through which bookmakers must report suspicious gambling activity. Anyone looking to fix a race, therefore, would logically use an unregulated platform. Chignell explained:

“Let’s be clear – the greatest betting integrity threat to racing are jockeys and trainers stopping horses from winning and betting on them to lose on the illegal market ... What makes ... illegal operators different to the regulated markets is there’s no obligation to report on suspicious betting, cheating, jockeys betting, breaches of the rules of racing. Not having those reporting channels in place is a huge integrity threat.”

Illegal betting channels also lack the motivation to report on cheating and help keep racing clean, as it is in their best interests to earn commission on the maximum amount of bets possible.

Chignell believes that racing authorities must monitor the illegal market as closely if not more so than the legal market, saying:

“The most essential [step] is to have a robust integrity function that must include bet monitoring and betting analysis, an active intelligence function ... and having the ability to investigate and disrupt where appropriate.”

As Cointelegraph reported last week, cryptocurrency has also been cited as one of the reasons for an increase in illegal gambling on Asian soccer leagues.