The Asian Racing Federation has ramped up its efforts to combat black market betting with a new “Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force” that has already begun sharing information with law enforcement bodies around the world.

The federation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and officials will brief Interpol members on the size, scope and impact of the region’s illegal betting at a conference in Bangkok.

The International Centre for Sport Security, a non-profit based in Qatar that works with governments, organising committees and governing bodies to “promote and protect the integrity of sport”, estimates that 85 per cent of the Chinese sports betting market is illegal, worth US$600 billion. That accounts for the majority of a global illegal market they estimate at US$750 billion to US$1 trillion.

Officials say the new task force provides a platform for cooperation and information sharing between the 21 racing jurisdictions that make up the ARF, along with government agencies and law enforcement groups.

ARF chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said the formation of the task force, ACIC agreement and Interpol briefing were further steps towards keeping criminality out of horse racing.

“The agreement is the first that the ARF has signed with a law enforcement agency and illustrates the commitment of the ARF and its members to work with and assist law enforcement agencies in upholding the integrity of horse racing and combatting illegal betting, a key driver of sports corruption,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Martin Purbrick, the Jockey Club’s head of security and also chair of the new task force, said the new measures would not only help keep horse racing clean, but help administrators from the sports world understand how match-fixing works.

“Horse racing has had a long historical relationship with betting, which has left it better placed than some sports to deal with threats to integrity from betting,” he said.

“However, illegal betting markets have grown hugely in the past decade, especially in Asia, and this has brought new threats from organised criminal groups who seek to profit from illegal betting markets and sports corruption. The ARF is resolute in combating this threat.”

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Primarily though, the task force will raise awareness of illegal betting with individual racing jurisdictions, in part through providing extensive research.

“As an organisation we can not only help them with that research but provide them with information about individual groups, helping them to understand them, and providing options for what their role might be in trying to combat that,” Purbrick said.

“What we want to do for racing jurisdictions is to help them convince government agencies that they should be doing something to solve these problems.

“What we will do through the ARF task force, firstly, is produce a report on the illegal betting situation in each country, including market sizing.”

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