Wednesday February 17,2016 : INTERNATIONAL INTEREST IN AUSSIE GAMBLING REVIEW (Update)
Reports that Hong Kong Jockey Club has submitted its views to the O'Farrell gambling review committee.
The Australian newspaper reports that among the submissions made to the Australian federal government’s O’Farrell committee reviewing the Interactive Gaming Act is an international and supposedly confidential claim from the Philippines-registered Hong Kong Jockey Club that Asian-based online bookmakers have ties to organised crime and constitute a threat to Australia's racing and sports activities.
The newspaper reports that the submission, titled Illegal Betting Markets and Links with Organized Crime, went so far as to name several major companies such as SBObet, CitiBet and IBCbet, alleging that they do a lively business with Aussie racing punters.
“SBOBET and IBC ownership is linked, opaque and suspected to involve multiple Asian illegal bookmakers,’’ the HKJC report apparently claims.
It also alleges that IBCbet is part-owned by gambling magnate and frequent visitor to Australian shores Paul Phua, who is said to have ties with organised crime, according to documents filed in the US courts following his run-in with the FBI on World Cup football gambling charges several years ago Phua has repeatedly denied such allegations.
The HKJC submission allegedly warns that betting on Australian racing through just one unlicensed Asia betting site alone has reached almost A$1 billion a year, posing grave integrity and revenue risks for the industry, and claims that criminal and triad involvement in offshore Asian bookmaking operations account for a growing share of betting turnover in the region.
It also flagged the anonymity possible through betting with such enterprises, and alleged that betting exchange CitiBet's activity in the Australian turns over around A$930 million a year, or 8 percent of the local industry's total licensed operator turnover.
Asian online bookmakers are also accused in the HKJC submission of making no financial contributions to Australian racing, and the Australian racing industry has seized on this and the figures to urge the Australian government to block access to foreign betting sites.
“Racing is facing a massive revenue threat from the Asian illegal bookmakers but their links with trans-national crime syndicates means the integrity danger cannot be overlooked,’’ one senior racing official told The Australian.
The Australian notes that the HKJC submission, which has not been publically released, was produced by Martin Purbrick, a former senior police official in Hong Kong who is now the HKJC’s director of security and integrity, and Andrew Harding, the head of the club’s racing authority and secretary-general of the Asian Racing Federation.