Exchanges' Response to DCMS Announcement
By staff
14th June 2004) Betfair, Betdaq, and Sporting Options, the leading three betting exchanges, today welcomed the government’s categorical acceptance that backing and laying were complementary forms of betting which should not be differentiated.

The key statement in today’s response to the Joint Scrutiny Committee report brought home the fact that when they bet in a properly regulated environment, betting exchange customers represent no more of a threat to the rest of the betting public or the integrity of sport than customers of traditional bookmakers.

The government has therefore underlined the folly of singling out sections of the betting public for individual licenses, and endorsed the view that betting exchange customers should not in any way be treated differently from customers of the traditional betting shop.

The government has also stated that it will enshrine in legislation all the safeguards which the leading exchanges already offer as part of their business model, which represents strong endorsement of current best business practice. All betting exchange customers are already registered with the exchanges. Equally, all three of the leading exchanges provide information to governments and administrative bodies, and doing so to the Gambling Commission is a welcome extension of that.

The exchanges have previously warned against creating bureaucracy for one set of operators and its customers without bringing commensurate advantages, and today’s announcement supports that position. The government must now clarify that the Gambling Commission will in its turn ensure that its definition of what constitutes ‘business’ relates to all punters, given the government’s acceptance that there is no difference between backing and laying. The reporting requirements for large staking or winning customers can only be effective in achieving the aims of regulation if they are applied across the gambling spectrum.

Today’s statement does much to safeguard the fiscal and regulatory benefits which currently exist for government, and guarantee racing continued access to the unprecedented level of information which it currently receives. It effectively removes the risk of arbitrary discrimination against certain “high-rolling” bettors, which would encourage them to find alternative operators in unregulated environments, and end the model in the United Kingdom. Clarity as regards the Gambling Commission will further strengthen this, and the exchanges look forward to working alongside the ABB and others to ensure the area is effectively managed across the board.

DCMS understands that the regulatory aims of government are best achieved through the strict regulation of the operator rather than the customer, and through maximum transparency. The exchanges fully support both. They will continue to work closely with all the key stakeholders as the Gambling Bill moves towards its formal introduction in the House of Commons, 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 their customers.

For further information, please contact: Mark Davies, Betfair: 07050 246230

Kevin Griffiths, Sporting Options: 07779 451271

Rob Hartnett, Betdaq: +353 86 806 3307

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