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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Asia tackles offshore betting

Hong Kong Jockey club building
The Asian horse racing industry says its revenues are plunging

Horse racing bodies from across the Asia-Pacific region are due on Monday to sign an agreement to fight illegal offshore gambling.

The so-called "good-neighbour policy" is to be approved in Hong Kong by eight members of the Asian Racing Federation.

It is an attempt to maximise the income regional organisations receive from betting in their own jurisdictions.

They argue that internet and mobile phone gambling - which enables punters to place instant, tax-free bets on horse races - are harming the industry.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Hong Kong says that offshore operators face lower costs, and often offer better odds than the officially-sanctioned bookmakers.

Millions of dollars of tax revenue and money, which the racing industry argues should be ploughed back into the sport, are being lost as a result.

Joining forces

The agreement calls on participants to respect each other's jurisdictions and raise public awareness about illegal offshore betting, said Lawrence Wong, chairman of the Asian Racing Federation.

Members will also develop joint systems to administer gambling at each other's races.

This way, they argue, more bets can be taxed and the income shared.

The participating bodies include: the Japan Racing Association, the Australian Racing Board, the Turf Authorities of India, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, the Korea Racing Association, the Singapore Turf Club and the Jockey Club of Turkey.

The BBC's Chris Hogg reports from Hong Kong
"Gambling is an obsession for many people in this part of the world"

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