Increased internet betting seems to cause problems to traditional horse racing industry the world over. Ireland, America and recently Hong Kong have seen huge drops in revenues.
A fresh online study reports that Hong Kong Jockey Club, an establishment dating back over a hundred and twenty five years, is struggling to make ends meet, due to increased betting on races through online sportsbooks. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the club, commented: “Our competitiveness is at risk. Competition is just a mouse click away. Why go to the track when you can bet from home while sitting on your plush sofa.”
Decreased revenues of Hong Kong’s Jockey Club are not the only issue here. Tax revenues received by the government are also down, simultaneously decreasing government funding for maintaining cultural and social programs in Hong Kong. The Jockey Club, with its twenty thousand plus members, is the province’s largest taxpayer which provides seven million city dwellers with horse racing, lotteries and sports betting. Over a hundred years ago, the strict Hongkongese gambling laws permitted horse racing only in Hong Kong while traditional casino gambling was permitted only in Macau.
The Jockey Club provides for over seven percent of the country’s total tax revenue, which contributes to Hong Kong having some of the lowest income tax rates in the world. Over a hundred million Hong Kong dollars is wagered on each race, according to William Nader, the club’s racing’ Executive Director. This beats U.S. horse track betting by an astounding fifty times.
Global Racing Director of Betfair, Mr. Burn complained that industry insiders are worried: “There is a tidal wave of people who want to use the new technology, and it’s more and more difficult for Hong Kong to maintain its monopoly and have a thriving business when there are so many competing alternatives out there, both illegal and legal.”
The only hope for The Jockey Club is to rely on their impeccable reputation, and try to find new ways to attract players, including providing online and mobile wagering opportunities.