10/03/2004 11:00PM

International pact on betting


Members of 50 countries agreed during a conference on Monday to adopt a two-point plan calling for restrictions on wagering on horse races in an effort to stop unauthorized betting.

The proposal, adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, held in conjunction with the running of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, would require anyone offering betting on a race to obtain the approval of the track hosting the race. The second part of the plan called for betting outlets to refrain from offering wagering to citizens of any country that prohibits that type of betting.

The proposal is being adopted at a time when Internet betting exchanges, such as the British-based Betfair, have come to dominate growth in international wagering. Betting exchanges allow accountholders to offer odds on a horse to win or lose and accept wagers from other accountholders. Betfair currently offers betting on American horse races, despite the protests of some American racetracks, but it says that it prohibits Americans from opening accounts.

Earlier this year, Martin Bruggink, the Federation's executive director, told the U.S. racing industry at the Round Table Conference in Saratoga in August that racetracks should begin to assert their intellectual rights over their races to combat unauthorized betting.