I hope the ARLC CEO and Board Members are watching carefully the saga surrounding the John Singleton owned More Joyous at Randwick races last Saturday.
It is not just a case of a high profile rugby league personality being involved – the whole sorry saga is going to repeat itself in one form or other in our great game sooner rather than later.
And if the ARLC is watching, then I hope it is taking notice of the aggressively pro-active approach being taken by Racing New South Wales stewards to the inquiry into the massive fall out between John Singleton and Gay Waterhouse – and the most prominent media face in rugby league today….her bookmaker son, Tom!
When you strip the personalities sideshow from what happened, the real issue now concerns alleged “inside information” which had the potential to impact massively on betting on the horse.
One of the central allegations is that Tom Waterhouse has “information” from the horse’s trainer, his mother, that it had a fitness problem that would impact on its ability to run in the time honoured All Aged Stakes.
Does anyone seriously believe it is not just a matter of time before there is a serious claim of a major betting plunge on a rugby league matched based on “inside information” from a coach, official or player?
It has probably happened already – but we are not to know because their is minimal supervision and scrutiny on betting on NRL matches.
On the other hand, Racing NSW has a large integrity unit, with wide powers, that is painstakingly going through all the betting on More Joyous last Saturday – and on the rest of the horses in the race.
If the ARLC is not careful, if and when the ASADA inquiry ends, it will find itself in another scandal – one involving inside information being used to corrupt betting on an NRL match.
Let me give one likely example.
Suppose someone close to an NRL coach tells a punter – and there is a punter with close NRL club links now involved in the More Joyous affair – that a play maker from a particular club won’t take the field in the weekend’s fixture even though he is in the program and even though there has been no suggestion he won’t play.
That punter can put a small fortune on the other team – and if he spreads his bets across all the players it is not likely to be detected.
If the ARLC had full time and skilled integrity staff it would be monitoring betting up to and during each weekend’s premiership round.
And, as happens regularly in racing, the integrity staff could arrange for the coach, and players, of a club that has been the subject of a significant betting trend, and that “they are watching”.
In racing the stewards especially watch betting in the half hour or so before a race…..and especially if a favourite has “drifted” then they get the starter to tell the jockey as the horse is going into the barrier that “they are watching”.
We need the same. And we need it now.
Ironically, the Racing NSW official who is leading the inquiry is the Chief Steward, Ray Murrihy. He is one of the best.
Last year he gave advice to the NRL on how to monitor betting that might corrupt our great game.
At the time I suggested the NRL should make Ray and offer he could not refuse – and sign him up to run a new integrity unit.
The game’s administrators have been embarrassingly caught short on the drugs issue – even though the credibility of ASADA is now highly questionably.
It needs to learn the lesson – and develop the capacity to be pro-active in dealing with suspect betting.
If it doesn’t, another crisis awaits it!