The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has written to the Australian government, local racing authorities and casino operator Crown Resorts over what it calls “serious integrity concerns” after betting exchange Betfair launched wagering on Hong Kong races this week.
The move follows a 21 August announcement by Betfair Pty Limited, which is owned by Crown Resorts, that it would commence offering a range of wagering options on Hong Kong meetings. The first of those took place at Sha Tin last Sunday 1 September.
In a Wednesday announcement, HKJC said that Betfair’s decision to offer Hong Kong wagering was done so “without prior consultation with the Club and in the absence of the Club’s permission and license.”
“The Club takes this matter seriously as it represents a serious integrity issue and an equally serious infringement of its intellectual property rights,” it said.
“In addition, creating the opportunity for people to back horses to lose is against what we all believe in.”
HKJC, which has agreements in place with other Australian operators to offer certain types of wagering on its meetings, said it had expressed its concerns in writing to the Australian government, relevant racing authorities including the Northern Territory Racing Commission which licenses Betfair, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Racing Australia.
It also made public cease and desist letters it has sent to Betfair and Crown Resorts in which reference is made to recent Australian media reports alleging links between Crown and Asian crime syndicates.
“Such an inquiry into your holding company’s operations within the highly-regulated casino industry manifestly raises concerns over the adequacy of corporate governance measures adopted through the Crown Resorts group,” the HKJC said.
“Betfair’s approach of commencing operating on Hong Kong racing without having secured any authority from the Club to do this has done nothing to alleviate those concerns.”
Update: Unconfirmed information received early Thursday morning by IAG indicates that Betfair has now withdrawn its Hong Kong racing product as a result of the pressure applied by the HKJC.
IAG understands turnover on Betfair on Sunday 1 September averaged around AU$40,000 per race, a drop in the ocean compared to the millions turned over by Asian underground betting exchanges. The underground exchanges allow gamblers to lay horses (bet on them to lose), just as Betfair does.