Betfair Update On Japanese Racing

As many of you will know, Betfair launched and subsequently pulled Hong Kong racing from the exchange in September 2019, and has today made the decision to pull Japanese racing.

Our ambition has always been to offer you, the punters, the best possible wagering experience, and the ability to bet at better odds, to back, lay, and trade; all on our safe and trusted betting exchange. In doing so we have always sought to do the right thing by racing bodies – so that a reasonable fee is paid by Betfair, and very importantly, any racing body and its stewards can access betting records relating to their racing events.

We launched Japanese racing on the exchange in March 2020 in order to continue meeting the needs and interests of our customers and punters during what was a time of unprecedented uncertainty for racing, and we know many punters love the product.

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” (Lay).

Although we strongly disagree with the HKJC and JRA, for reasons expanded on below, and whilst we 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 JRA had threatened to pull their vision from all channels currently allowing Australian punters to access their racing, as well as potentially restricting horses from racing in Australia. Given the disruption this would pose to Australian punters and Australian racing bodies alike, as fans of racing, we have ceased offering markets on the exchange.


Integrity

The argument that because an exchange allows you to lay a horse and therefore opens up integrity concerns is fundamentally flawed. The same outcome can be achieved through a fixed-odds bookmaker or tote pool by backing the other runners, and these arguments have been disproven in relation to the exchange given the world-class levels of integrity and transparency Betfair provide.

Betfair has world-class integrity tools that are made available to all racing bodies with which we have entered into a product fee and integrity agreement. These tools include real-time access to transactions and price movements on the Betfair Exchange – and ask any steward that uses these, and they will confirm they’re an invaluable tool in monitoring the integrity of a race. Further Betfair has an inhouse Integrity Team (comprised of 8 full-time employees) with every bet on the Betfair Betting Exchange being tracked and recorded.

We are fully committed to protecting the integrity of our betting markets. Much like the HKJC and JRA, we adopt an uncompromising approach to integrity.


Leakage Offshore

The Betfair exchange appeals to customers that want better odds, that want to trade, and to winners that can’t get on with fixed odds bookies – so for these customers, their only choice is either to bet with Betfair or bet with illegal offshore betting exchanges that are not willing to enter into product fee/integrity agreements with racing and sports bodies.

Betfair representatives have sat side by side with representatives of racing bodies at Asian Racing Conferences and other integrity conferences talking about the risks that illegal betting exchanges (such as Citibet and Turf7) pose. These include integrity, due to their lack of transparency; to funding, due to their lack of contribution back to racing; to customers, through their lack of player protections; and finally risks posed in relation to money laundering.

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.


Winners All Round

A vibrant licensed betting exchange has been consistently shown to benefit the broader wagering ecosystem – corporate bookmakers and customers look to Betfair for a guide on odds, so when we are down the tote and corporate bookmakers suffer (industry-wide wagering turnover has been shown to drop ~17%) and conversely when we are strong everyone benefits.

We firmly believe our interests are aligned with racing bodies – offering customers the best possible wagering experience, sharing the upside in increasing turnover and being fully transparent to fight integrity risks. It is why our mission is to champion winning.

Betfair will continue to play the long game – educating racing bodies as to the benefits of a licenced, transparent betting exchange, and striving to be the most trusted wagering platform in ANZ – and we apologise to any punters disappointed by the fact we have had to pull these products.