|Saturday, July 15, 2006|
|Betting in Hong Kong reaches record|
According to new figures published by The Hong Kong Jockey Club, its betting turnover reached a record HK$99 billion, a 1.75% increase compared to 2004/2005. As a result, the Club paid total betting duty and profits tax of HK$12.405 billion to the SAR Government. This figure is estimated to represent around 8.6 % of total tax collected by Inland Revenue Department. In addition, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust contributed HK$1.027 billion to community and charitable projects in Hong Kong.
Noting the decline in horse racing betting turnover for the sixth straight year, Chief Executive Lawrence T Wong warmly welcomed the passage of the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 2006 in the Legislative Council on 12 July, saying that it gave a ray of hope to arresting the continuing fall in turnover.
"We should like to thank the legislators for giving the Amendment Bill their most thorough consideration," Wong said. "The revised Betting Duty Ordinance will provide the Club with more operational flexibility to maintain the competitiveness of its products. Nevertheless the Government, the Club and the community at large must stay on the alert to maintain the fight against illegal gambling. The Club's prime objective is to implement the regulated gambling policies authorised by the Government. While meeting the demand for gambling in society, we have always been strongly committed to socially responsible gambling, as reflected in our Responsible Gambling Policy."
Outlining the performances of individual units of the Club's activities, Mr Wong said that total horse racing attendance for 2005/06 season (1.89 million for 78 race meetings) and betting turnover (HK$60.050 billion for 78 race meetings) had continued to show a decline. Total horse race betting duty paid to the Government was down 4.9 % to HK$7.943 billion.
HKJC Football Betting Ltd recorded turnover of HK$31.272 billion and gross profits of HK$5.115 billion, of which 50 %, or HK$2.558 billion was paid to the Government as betting duty. Despite more competitive odds and lower margin bet types being offered in order to strengthen the fight against illegal bookmakers, the gross profit margin increased from about 15 % to 16 %. One of the major contributing factors to the 17 % increase in turnover was World Cup 2006, the opening stages of which were held before the financial year ended on 30 June.
"The widespread police raids on illegal gambling activities during the World Cup illustrate that despite the best efforts of all parties concerned, fighting illegal gambling remains an uphill battle that is not likely to be resolved quickly or easily," Mr Wong commented. "We should like to thank the police for their vigilance in identifying and arresting offenders. We are also encouraged to note that a number of the raids resulted from public tip-offs, which shows that the community at large support these efforts and that public education programmes are having an impact. We hope that the community's vigilance and determination will not diminish now the World Cup is over."
Turnover for the Mark Six dropped 4.6% to HK$6.293 billion. Of this, HK$1.573 billion was paid to the Government as lottery duty and HK$944 million paid to the Lotteries Fund, which finance social welfare capital projects under the auspices of Social Welfare Department.
In 2005/06, total community donations of HK$1.027 billion by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust provided support to 106 local community and charitable projects in four key sectors: medical and health; education and training; sports, recreation and culture; and community services.
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