Racing Australia, the legislative entity for the Australian thoroughbred horseracing industry, has expedited the process to enforce new laws that will abolish operations estimated to have resulted in the loss of millions in bets AUD to unregistered and unlawful gambling companies prevailing and existing mostly in Asia.
Australian authorities are enforcing measures to prevent the access of any persons using such services in order to track down those culpable. Those affected are potential handlers and owners who are now subject to having their mobile devices and electronic messages forensically tracked and imaged.
In accordance with the new law, any evidence of wrongdoing will result in heavy fines and even potential jail time for those collaborating with offshore companies not licensed with Australian racing states.
Racing Australia is not the first legal body to implement such a rule; following suit to the regulations utilized by Racing Victoria, a local racing regulatory body, which had passed similar restrictions. The key difference is that Racing Australia has the power to broaden its conditions to include key racing authorities throughout Australia.
Against the odds
Currently, Australian bettors are being lured offshore to wager with illegal betting agencies not located within the country; offering better odds and return on potential investments or wagers using no anonymity as the primary bait.
“More than $1.3 billion of gambling activity is going offshore from Australia every year, denuding racing authorities of millions of dollars in product fees, hitting prizemoney, sponsorship and track and training facilities,”
states Stephen Conroy, Racing Wagering Australia’s executive director, whose body represents the interests of the country’s online betting operators.
“The illegal offshore wagering market is a scourge on Australian racing,” he added in a recent statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia.
The new laws monitoring illegal horseracing-related betting activities will come into effect 1 August 2018. If unsolicited operators are not put into check, experts have estimated that the offshore market could grow to as high as AUD900 million by the year 2020.
“This is simply about prohibiting participants betting with non-approved offshore wagering operators because it’s a significant risk for the industry,” says Barry O’Farrell, Racing Australia’s chief executive.
“The stewards have no visibility as to who is betting with them and therefore have no powers to acquire the production of a customer’s betting records. That obviously limits the ability of the racing integrity agencies to inquire and investigate relating to those matters.”
Protecting the integrity of the sport by keeping it legal is a crucial aspect of Racing Australia’s objective. Its members are working diligently to prevent illegal gambling, which undermines the hard work of the members of Australia’s thoroughbred industry and horseracing today.
What is at stake?
The latest legislation follows a 2015 official review, which led to the tightening of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act in 2016, forcing among other things, poker operators such as the internationally recognized PokerStars online brand to remove itself from the market.
Authorities currently have the power to fine as much as AUD1 million per day to individuals coordinating or operating under the guise of legal betting platforms, and as much as AUD5 million for companies offering betting to Australians without the proper gambling licenses specified to Australia.
The difficulty, authorities have claimed, is in tracking down the illegal enterprises, particularly in Asia, where legal red tape and the boundaries of their jurisdictions are not easily enforced. Imposing penalties looks good on paper, but bringing perpetrators to justice and forcing them to pay the maximum fines is another story altogether.
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