British exchange betting services Betfair and Sporting Options on Tuesday signed a potentially historic agreement with the U.K. Jockey Club.
In an effort to curb corruption in the racing community, the two groups signed a memorandum of understanding allowing Jockey Club officials to access names and information about some of their users for races that cause concern.
"The parameters are very specific and will benefit punters and the industry by excluding those who should have no part in it."
- Mark Davies
Under the terms of the agreement, requests for information may only be made when the Jockey Club has reasonable grounds to suspect a breach of the rules of racing or a threat to the integrity of racing
"Any request for information would be authorized by the Jockey Club's security and investigations committee, which includes independent representation and expertise in criminal law," explained the club's executive director, Christopher Foster. "Betting exchanges will also be encouraged to draw to the Jockey Club's attention matters which give them cause for concern regarding the sport's integrity."
Foster said the deal is a sign to the betting public that operators are willing to work with the racing industry.
"Confidence in the integrity of the sport is as important for the betting industry and racing as it is for the punter," he said. "The development of a memorandum of understanding with betting exchanges represents a significant advance in our ability to protect and maintain the integrity of horse racing."
The Jockey Club additionally announced that horse owners are to be restricted on their use of betting exchanges, while trainers and stable staff are to be banned altogether from laying horses in their care.
Mark Davies, spokesman for Betfair, said the agreement is an important initiative for his company and for the integrity of the sport.
"It is a major step in protecting both groups from any parties that shouldn't be involved, and it's been very carefully put together to ensure that innocent parties don't find themselves wrapped up in things that have nothing to do with them," he said. "The parameters are very specific and will benefit punters and the industry by excluding those who should have no part in it."
"It would appear Betfair is going to ask its customers to waive the rights they enjoy in every other sphere of life. We believe this is wrong."
- Rob Hartnett
A third exchange betting service, Betdaq, chose not to sign the memorandum of understanding because it was concerned about privacy issues.
"Privacy laws are designed to protect the innocent, not hide the guilty," said Rob Hartnett, a spokesman for Betdaq. "It would appear Betfair is going to ask its customers to waive the rights they enjoy in every other sphere of life. We believe this is wrong. When there is sufficient evidence of malpractice, the law should be used to track down the culprits. This is the job of the police and the judiciary, and to circumvent this, even for honorable motives, is inherently wrong."
Betdaq said it would provide information regarding market movement and volumes to the Jockey Club, but not detailed information about individual punters.
The Jockey Club also said it's in talks with traditional bookmakers in hopes of reaching similar agreements. The group's regulatory board could finalize the agreement with bookmakers by next month. Officials recommend that it be considered a breach of the rules if the financial incentive for an owner's horse to win is outweighed by the profit from laying the horse to lose.
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