Japanese Racing CEO Slams Bet-to-Lose Aspect of Aussie Exchange

Posted on: June 18, 2020, 04:31h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2020, 11:48h.

The president and CEO of the Japan Racing Association (JRA) posted a statement Monday that clarified his group’s objections to a betting exchange an Australian company expanded to include Japanese races.

Japan racing exchange
Horses race in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen stakes race at the Chukyo Racecourse in Nagoya, Japan. Racing officials in the country have spoken out against a recently ended Australian-based betting exchange that allowed people to bet on horses to lose. (Image: Japan Racing Association)

The letter comes about three weeks after Betfair.au stopped the betting exchange, which was done after the association threatened to block broadcast feeds to Australia and potentially restrict its horses from racing in the Land Down Under. Masayuki Goto’s letter, posted Monday on JapanRacing.jp, also serves as a response to Betfair’s statement on squashing the exchange.

A betting exchange allows people to bet directly against another person on a sporting event. Rather than the sportsbook or racebook taking a portion of the bet, called the takeout in racing or the juice in sports betting parlance, exchanges take a smaller commission off a bettor’s net winnings.

For the JRA, the concern lies with the peer-to-peer nature of the exchange, as it means people can bet on a horse to lose rather than bet on another horse to win.

(F)rom a viewpoint of horseracing as a sport, it is necessary to determine the summit,” Goto wrote. “That is why the winner, and not the loser, should be praised. It does not mean that the losers are miserable. This is because without losers there would be no winner and no competition. Competition encourages improvement. In terms of betting, it may be possible to lay horses to lose, which is the majority, but it does not make sense from a sporting perspective.”

Japanese law exempts horse racing from the country’s ban on gambling, and, as such, Goto said the JRA takes that exemption seriously. He said betting directly on a horse to lose “is totally unacceptable from the standpoint of maintaining the integrity.”

Hong Kong Exchange Previously Halted

Goto said that Japanese racing officials have had concerns about an Australian betting exchange since Betfair first received permission to establish one nearly 15 years ago. At that time, Goto said officials were told the gambling company would create such an exchange.

Betfair’s decision to end the Japanese exchange comes just months after the company tried one with racing in Hong Kong. Like the JRA, the Hong Kong Jockey Club protested the move and called for it to stop, which the organization did in September.

In its statement announcing its decision to end the exchange, Betfair said it was looking to give its bettors the best possible experience.

“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,” the company posted on its web site.

It also refuted JRA claims about undermining integrity, as Betfair said all bets on the exchange are tracked and recorded by exchange employees.

The Australian exchange still offers action on races held elsewhere, including Great Britain, France, and the US.

Racing Exchange Available in New Jersey

In the United States, Betfair offers a horse racing betting exchange through a partnership with TVG, an online betting organization and television network owned by FanDuel. However, the fixed-odds exchange is only available to bettors in New Jersey. On Thursday, the only tracks available for betting are Evangeline Downs in Louisiana and Pakenham in Australia.

Fixed-odds betting on racing is also available in Las Vegas, with such sportsbooks as William Hill and Circa Sports taking wagers.

While not an exchange, Circa Sports has posted two-way odds for select horses in Saturday’s Belmont and the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby.