Hong Kong Jockey Club officials say state-of-the-art systems used to monitor betting patterns helped uncover evidence that led to the charges against banned Australian jockey Nash Rawiller.
On Wednesday, Rawiller was disqualified immediately for 15 months for receiving money or gifts in return for tips and may face further criminal action.
The Jockey Club has developed technology to gather data for illegal gambling sites and employs a stipendiary steward whose job is to watch for suspicious betting patterns.
“People should know we have an extremely vigorous system and that we can uncover things that perhaps others can’t,” Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
“We monitor markets, both legal and illegal, in Hong Kong and around the world, and we have a dedicated team that does that.
“We can use the data we find to be more specific in investigations and we identified this as a significant case.
“The analysis we do of markets, both legal and those overseas, helped us identify a pattern. We had sufficient evidence we could start the investigation.”
The major illegal market Jockey Club monitors is CITIbet, a largely unregulated agent-based exchange on which account holders can essentially bet on horses to lose.
One year ago Jockey Club officials estimated CITIbet held US$50 billion on racing annually – with its largest market Hong Kong – and identified the biggest area of growth for the exchange’s customer base to be the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where gambling is illegal.
The Jockey Club release after Rawiller was charged stated there was no suggestion the jockey had bet or tipped against his own rides.
Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding said the charges not only showed how sophisticated the Jockey Club’s monitoring systems are but how heavy the penalties can be for those who offend.
“The club’s systems for ensuring integrity in racing are highly effective. The club has very robust systems in place and expert resources to uphold integrity and detect breaches of the rules,” he said. “They are being continuously improved and one of the significant enhancements in recent years has been the capacity to do betting data analysis.
“What the developments also illustrate is that if somebody is going to take a risk and break the rules then they will get caught.
“Fifteen months disqualification is a very heavy penalty but it says loudly and clearly that the club has a zero tolerance for conduct of this nature.
“The strong and decisive action the club took demonstrates that the club will always do everything necessary to uphold the integrity of racing in Hong Kong.”