Hong Kong horse races plagued by illegal crypto betting operators

The increase in cryptp-based horse racing betting poses a threat to the integrity of horse racing in Asia. The Managing Director of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Tom Chignell, warned of a loss of reputation for horse racing and the associated betting market at the Asian Racing Conference in Cape Town.

As the South China Morning Post reported on 21 February, the increase in the number of crypto betting providers opening up is creating an increasing danger of collusion between race participants.


Betting markets should be more tightly controlled

Crypto currencies have led to a rapidly expanding gambling market in which some providers have specialized in offering bets on horse races around the globe with fixed odds.

On the legally regulated market, there are established reporting channels through which bookmakers must report suspicious gambling activities. Anyone who wants to manipulate a race would therefore logically use an unregulated platform. Chignell explained:

“To put it bluntly, the biggest threat to the integrity of betting in racing is the jockeys and trainers who prevent horses from winning and bet on them to lose in the illegal market… What the… distinguishes illegal operators from regulated markets is that there is no obligation to report suspicious betting, cheating, jockeys, breaches of the rules of racing. If these reporting channels are not in place, it is a major threat to integrity’.


Illegal race channels also lack the motivation to report scams and help keep the races clean, as it is in their interest to receive a commission on the maximum number of bets possible.

Chignell believes that race authorities need to monitor the illegal market as closely, if not more closely, than the legal market, says Chignell:

“The most essential [step] is to have an integrity approach to monitoring and analysing bets, a verification mechanism and the ability to investigate and intervene if necessary.