Betfair Response to Report on Draft Gambling Bill
By philip
(7th April 2004) Joint Scrutiny Committee chairman John Greenway today recognised that ‘exchanges are a good thing [and] must not be forced abroad by unnecessary regulation’.

Betfair welcomed that view as the Committee’s report into the Draft Gambling Bill was published. Betfair also noted that the Committee accepted the great benefits that betting exchanges are delivering for punters and sporting regulatory bodies.

However, the leading betting exchange questioned the logic and workability of seeking to impose thresholds above which its customers might require some form of registration for integrity purposes, or licensing and taxation, on the grounds that they are acting as “de facto bookmakers”, because they are not. Betting exchange users are no different from any other punters, and no British punters are currently licensed or regulated.

Imposing thresholds on betting exchange punters would discriminate against one section of the betting public: targeting those who bet on outcomes not to happen is no more logical than targeting those who bet on outcomes to happen, since the two are different sides of the same coin. It would also create bureaucracy for one set of operators, while doing nothing to further the licensing objectives of protecting the vulnerable, keeping crime out of sport, and ensuring fairness to the consumer.

Moreover, requiring the registration of certain betting exchange customers would bring no more information about those customers than is already known to the betting exchange operator. The audit trail of an exchange allows operators of exchanges – and by extension the sports regulators and administrative bodies with which they share information – to know in full what bets are placed, when, by whom, in what size, with what funds, and with what counterparty. Betfair believes that the best way to address integrity risks is to impose these policies on all bookmakers, not to introduce a punter registration system based on arbitrary and easily side-stepped criteria.

Betfair will continue, as it has over the last eighteen months, to work with DCMS, as recommended by the Committee. It will seek to ensure that the three pillars of gambling regulation are firmly set in place, without the introduction either of unnecessary bureaucracy, or of policies which are discriminatory to its customers. It wholly supports the objectives of government, and the Committee’s contribution to the process of modernising the existing current gambling laws.

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