Racing scandal hinges on Betfair records

Traditional bookies unimpressed

Champion jockey Kieren Fallon has been released without charge following his arrest yesterday in connection with alleged race fixing. Police arrested Fallon early yesterday morning and also removed computers from his home. A string of high-profile racing personalities were also taken into custody.

Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding bets placed on more than 80 races stretching back over the last two years. Records provided by Betfair, an online betting exchange, are at the centre of the investigation. The company issued a statement, saying that it played a key role in helping police with their enquiries.

Betting exchanges act as a broker between betters, and offer users the opportunity to bet on (back) or against (lay) the outcome of sporting events, effectively allowing a person to take the place of a bookmaker. The exchange will typically take a percentage of the stake as its commission, but even so, the odds available are often better than those offered on the high street.

Offering punters the option to lay outcomes, however, leaves the system open to abuse, according to the traditional bookies. The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) argues that being able to back a horse to lose makes it easier to cheat. It says it is much simpler to arrange for one jockey to throw a race than to for a specific horse to win.

It issued a statement saying: "The ability of betting exchange customers to act as unlicensed bookmakers without revealing their identities to punters is the equivalent of the sport sitting on a smouldering powder keg. For the betting exchanges to say that cases of alleged corruption would not be identified but for the excellence of their audit trails is akin to a householder leaving his doors and windows wide open and then claiming credit for reporting a burglary."

The conditions of Fallon's bail require him to appear at a London Police station in two months' time. ®

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