Greed is the cause of racing’s money laundering problem.
Back in the punting days of my youth I was on nodding terms with Robert Trimbole as we both went about the never ending search for value at Canberra race course and around the tracks of the Riverina. Our definition of value was different, I hasten to add, with his principal aim being to turn ill gotten drug gains into cash he could explain the origins of.
I was just trying to make an honest living and it was simply a bonus for the likes of me that the extravagant Trimbole sorties often provided opportunities for profitable arbitrage as bookmakers tried to reduce their liabilities. For this reason alone I will always have a soft spot in my memory for Robert that I do not have for all money launderers I have come across on race tracks over the years.
For some, you see, are greedy men not content with turning $100 of black money into $85 or so of white by backing the normal share of losers. They prefer to try and make the game one where the $100 they dare not put in the bank becomes $100+ that they can. It’s the reason why over the years there have been those stories of race fixing and little jockeys trying to get an earn by providing inside information.
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I presume that these are the kind of activities that got County Court judge Gordon Lewis so agitated about how organised crime had pervaded the racing industry and that racing had a culture of tolerating criminality in the report released yesterday by the Victorian Government. It has always been thus and always will be I expect.
In my experience the racing stewards do a pretty good job in stopping the greedy race fixers and bookmakers have a well developed sense of self preservation that enables them normally to defend themselves. They certainly will not be doing favours to winners by allowing them to bet under assumed names and such like. Money laundering winners must seek out the anonymity of the totalisator for their main activities.
The sensible person with black money, of course, does not get greedy but is prepared to pay a little commission by way of losses to end up with white notes in hand.
I know that Robert finally reached the conclusion that it was easier to do this in a straight forward way with bookmakers rather than trying to trick them by backing winners in a fair dinkum fashion. The only race track loser from the arrangement was the poor old punter like myself who found the profitable supply of overs rudely cut off.
And it really is unfair that horse racing has been singled out for this attention. Poker machines at casinos and clubs provide the black money man with the easiest way of turning an illegitimate $100 into a legitimate $85.