Top harness drivers charged over alleged race-fixing

Betting is only fun if it’s fair; a level playing field is essential. Recently, two Australian harness drivers were arrested for alleged ‘gaming of the system’. We take a closer look at this case and delve further into the all-important issue of sports betting integrity.

horse hooves in fixed horse race

Last year a scandal in the world of Australian harness racing took the Australian sports betting industry by storm. The Daily Mail reported that two drivers, Nathan Jack and Amanda Turnbull, had been arrested for race-fixing. The arrest happened in Melton at the big Breeders Crown meeting.

The press has labelled the two drivers in question the “glamour couple” of Australian harness racing. They have big resumes: both have a ton of experience and a successful track record in the racing world. But now their integrity has been called into question: investigators say they have evidence that these drivers conspired to pull the wool over the public’s eyes by misusing inside race information.

The amounts involved in the alleged scandal are believed to be as high as $30,000. Australian sports betting fans are angry about this abuse of the public trust. Official groups are looking into the issue as well. The Victoria Harness Racing Integrity Department first began an investigation into the incident back in June 2015, that focused on training arrangements and betting activities on certain races. This was then followed by an investigation by the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in November of that year. The sports betting community is similarly aghast.

Reports in the Melbourne Herald Sun discuss the driver’s efforts at avoiding suspension. The pair were released without charge after the Breeders Crown race, subject to an ongoing investigation from industry officials. The Herald Sun refers to both Jack and Turnbull as “champions of the industry” and cites the horse central to the scandal, “Airbornemagic.”

Investigators looked at betting patterns along with police – and they didn’t like what they saw. The news piece quotes insiders talking about how this is going to really affect the harness racing industry in a big way The quoted source talks about “getting the tongues wagging” – but incidents like this can have a more devastating effect. Members of the sports community are up in arms, as any scandal calling into question the integrity of the industry is seen as detrimental.

As evidenced by an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, this is not the first time that investigators have looked into harness race fixing. The report cites other cases of race fixing allegations and shows that administrators are always keenly keeping watch. Nathan Jack has also previously been suspected of leaking information to punters.

About Australian Sports Betting

So how big is sports betting and harness racing betting in Australia?

It’s a good question – any investigation into the heart of the matter should really look at how much of a piece of the pie sports betting makes up. A report from Gaming Intelligence shows that the country’s total gambling market is worth $191 billion in Australian dollars in 2014-15.

However, it shows that sports betting accounts for just 4% of that. That means those who are betting on football, horse racing and other sports are really in the minority, as compared to other forms of gambling.

However, anytime there’s any scandal regarding any form of gambling, the whole industry comes under the microscope, after all, money is at stake.

In our opinion, it’s unacceptable to have a situation where people are betting without the same knowledge as everyone else. This is why betting scandals in other countries are met with such forceful responses. Just look at the story of Pete Rose in the United States. It shows how a career baseball star lost everything due to his involvement in the under world of sports betting. Scandals like this are also a reason why punters look elsewhere for reputable betting agencies to bet with.

More Scandals?

How often do these problems happen in the Australian sports betting industry? More often than they should. This is just one recent scandal over the last year, but it probably will not be the only scandal to hit the newsstands this year.

Keep reading our industry news to see what’s going on in the betting world, and what you can do to protect yourself from any scandalous activity. You just might save yourself a whole lot of money, and you’ll soon become an authority on the gambling sector you’re participating in.

What are your thoughts on the scandal?