Amid the continuing hype in the battle
between Tabcorp’s Sky Channel and TVN, owned by the Sydney and
Melbourne race clubs, comes a little whisper that the recent cracking
of some major drug importation rings has put a big dent in betting
turnover, especially among Sydney bookmakers.

According to
punters, bookmaker turnovers in Sydney for the past three or four
Saturdays have been down, with falls also reported from nearby
provincial tracks like Hawkesbury. The total take ten days ago was down
30%, with those in the know attributing part of the fall to the
broadcasting dispute between Sky and TVN, and the rest to the arrest
and disappearance of members of a cocaine importing ring alleged using
Sydney airport.

So is this Sydney racing’s dirty little secret?
Do members of drug rings punt heavily to “launder” their cash payments
for their drugs? The TAB is also used, but that’s considered to be more
difficult because of the paper trail it leaves and the fact that the
money is out of sight.

One of those alleged to be involved in
the coke ring was Michael Hurley, who was often seen punting at
Randwick and Rosehill. Check this background on him from the SMH.

won’t be the first time that drug money has been spread around the race
tracks of Sydney and Melbourne – the dope syndicates of the 70s and 80s
also used the races as a washing machine.