Convicted drug trafficker Horty Mokbel has been reportedly laundering millions of dollars of drug money through online betting exchange Betfair Australasia, which is part of casino operator Crown Resorts.
According to The Age, Mokbel and company have been shifting drug proceeds between Betfair and Roctel, a small Melbourne-based business communication provider in which Mokbel invested AUD $1 million. Through Roctel executives and partners’ accounts, Mokbel and associates have reportedly funneled a total of AUD $3 million.
Mokbel and his drug lord brother Tony are members of the ”tracksuit gang”—a group of punters, organized criminals and racing figures who bet big and formed close ties with jockeys, bookmakers and trainers. Both brothers were banned by Victoria police from all racetracks and Crown Casino since 2004. However, police failed to ban other members, including Paul Sequenzia, who owns a number of prominent harness race horses.
Victorian police did not comment on why Sequenzia and the others were not banned but noted that the criteria includes being suspected of using racecourses for criminality. Sequenzia, who has been linked to the cobalt doping scandal and race fixing, has been spotted reuniting with Mokbel after the latter was released from prison on drug offences.
Betfair has attracted controversy pretty much since it was launched. In 2010, racehorse owner and professional gambler Harry Findlay was banned by the British Horseracing Authority for using Betfair to bet against his own horse, Gullible Gordon.
The other major contentious issue is with the in-play betting service Betfair offers on horse races. Most races that are broadcast live are actually subject to a delay of a few seconds. This means that customers of Betfair that are physically at a race may be able to place bets on outcomes that have already been decided, taking advantage of those customers that are watching online or on television.
Betfair has also come under immense criticism from traditional UK bookmakers such as Gala Coral Group, Ladbrokes and William Hill, who have alleged that Betfair’s exchange model has made gambling-related corruption within sports more prevalent. Betfair has defended itself vigorously against this criticism and is proactive in investigating suspicious betting patterns and sharing information with various sports bodies such as if required. Betfair also asserted that, unlike the high street brokers, who accept anonymous cash bets, Betfair is aware of who its customers are.