Spy drones hovering over town horse races for black market bookies

Chief Executive & Clerk of the Course David Hunter said without their campsite at Fakenham Racecours

Chief Executive & Clerk of the Course David Hunter said without their campsite at Fakenham Racecourse things could have been a lot worse.. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Drone pilots are trying to use the devices to hover over horse races to gain an edge for watching black market gamblers, a racecourse boss has warned.

Clerk of Fakenham racecourse, David Hunter, is asking the people in the market town to help combat the issue after a spike in cases over the last 18 months.

He says the drone operators are using them to offer the latest images from the race and offering some punters an edge.

Although not directly affecting the traditional bookmakers, people might be encouraged to leave these regulated services to bet on something more dangerous, like black-market bookies.

Fakenham Racecourse will not see racing until October. Picture: Fakenham Racecourse

Fakenham Racecourse is combatting drones flying overheard and feeding illegal images. - Credit: Archant

“When I’ve spoken to people in Fakenham some said they saw the drones and thought they were taking aerial photos of people’s houses,” he said.


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“If people in Fakenham know what a nuisance the drones are - that the operators are stealing our intellectual property; that they are operating without our permission and that an accident is waiting to happen - then I am sure the townsfolk would be horrified and will support us and show their distaste and the displeasure to the operators and report their activity to us.”

The closed sign at the Fakenham Racecourse during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The closed sign at the Fakenham Racecourse during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Mr Hunter said at the last race meeting on March 19, they were four drones watching over the racecourse.

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He said they will be issuing letters to neighbours asking them not to give permission for operators to take off and land from their gardens.

The black market sites are unsafe and unguarded and offer none of the regulated sector’s protections, such as safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits.

Chief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURT

Chief executive and clerk of the course David Hunter at Fakenham Racecourse. Photo: IAN BURT - Credit: Archant

Mr Hunter said he is frustrated by the way these people are acting.

“It makes me so angry. All of us put in a huge amount of work into the race meetings.

"We comply with all regulation and produce a highly professional racing product. These pirates come along and blatantly steal what is not theirs.

"They think they are untouchable. British Racing is not standing for it,  it may take time but the law will be upheld and they will be stopped."

Mr Hunter believes there should be government legislation in place to allow sports venues to have a legal no-fly zone around them on event days, similar to an airport.

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