HKJC needs new products amid illegal betting boom

    The Hong Kong Jockey Club needs to expand its offering to remain competitive and to discourage the ballooning illegal sports betting market in the territory, Patrick Jay, the club’s head of trading told Asia Gaming Brief.
    Given illegal operators are not paying taxes they are able to attract customers with a wider variety of bet types and incentives, including credit and discounts.
    “Take football betting as an example, they offer as many as 230 different bet types, of which 100 are in-play types, compared with only six in-play options provided by the Club amongst its total of 17 bet types,” he said, talking about the illegal operations.
    Jay said while the club needs to improve its offering, it will never offer credit, or be in a position to develop such a wide variety of betting options.
    According to a recent report, the illegal sports betting market in Hong Kong generated turnover of HK$500 billion ($64.4 billion) last year, more than four times the legal turnover at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and dwarfing casino revenue in neighbouring Macau, the world’s biggest legal gambling hub. Punters lost $12 billion.
    Jay said advances in technology were helping illegal bookmakers, with most moving to online platforms for gambling operations.
    From September 2013 to February 2014, there were over five million visits to some of the territory’s top five offshore betting–related websites. And the number of visits to these five websites is growing.
    “As the operation of illegal gambling becomes more sophisticated, the Club will have to remain competitive against them. We also believe a multi-pronged strategy involving the government, the police and other stakeholders would be essential to combat such activities.”
    The World Cup is expected to lead to a boom in illegal sports betting and Hong Kong authorities have set up a special task force, coordinating with counterparts on Mainland China and in Macau to crack down.
    Since the start of the World Cup police in Hong Kong have seized at least $69 million in illegal bets.