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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lessons from Victoria

The latest scandal in Australia involving harness racing comes from the weakness stewards have in regulating the sport with limited tools to fight alleged corruption.  The police had little interest in prosecuting race fixing cases.  So how did this scandal break?  According to press reports, Victoria passed a 'Cheating in Sport' legislation which allowed officials to seriously go after cheats and it allegedly has hit pay dirt (a summary of the legislation is available here).

It is clear that in the United States, the involvement of civil authorities in alleged racing irregularities of all breeds has been minimal.  Part of it is due to the priority of prosecutors put on racing wrong doings, the limited resources of prosecutors, and yes the ability of prosecutors to make a name for themselves.  As a result, policing of the sport remains in the hands of cash-strapped regulators who find themselves limited in what they can do.  Some tracks, frustrated by the limitations imposed on regulators, have taken matters into their own hands, using the exclusionary rule, as well as supplemental drug testing.

What is needed is an American version of 'Cheating in Sport' where Federal prosecutors can use to police all gambling sports.  Perhaps a percentage of handle can be used to fund federal investigations.  If we want racing to be popular again, the public must be ensured that all steps are taken to keep racing above board.

Just something to think about.

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