Australian online bookmaker Betfair has been forced to withdraw Japanese racing from its betting exchange, after pressure from the Japanese Racing Authority (JRA). The Japanese Racing Authority had expressed their strong opposition to Betfair offering a customer a bet on a horse to lose, citing integrity risks.
The dispute with the JRA had wider ramifications for the Australian horse racing industry, with the JRA threatening to stop Japanese horses from racing in Australia, as well as restricting Australian access to Japanese races.
This is the second time in the last 12 months that Betfair has come under scrutiny from racing bodies in Asia. Betfair was forced to withdraw wagering on Hong Kong races, after the Hong Kong Jockey Club voiced their displeasure.
In a cease and desist letter, the Hong Kong Jockey Club considered “that betting exchange platforms pose unique and fundamental threats to the integrity of racing.”
In a response on their website, Betfair maintained that they have “never been in breach of any legal or regulatory requirements.” The company disagreed with the assessment of the JRA and Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
“Unfortunately, the HKJC and JRA still have a view that a betting exchange poses risk to the integrity of a race given “a customer can back a horse to lose”
In a statement on their website, Betfair have maintained that “they have never been in breach of any legal or regulatory requirements in offering these markets, we have made the difficult decision to pull these markets.”
The success of Japanese horses in Australia and the COVID-19 restrictions had prompted Betfair to seek further offerings in the Asian horse racing market.
Betfair maintained that they will continue to compete with illegal operators: “Industry stakeholders (including Australian racing, sporting, regulatory and law enforcement bodies) are supportive of Betfair competing with illegal operators such as Citibet. They understand the benefits of capturing turnover through licensed transparent organisations such as Betfair.”