Hong Kong illegal sports betting hits $64 billion

    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.
    The size of the problem has prompted calls for coordinated action amid concern the government is losing millions in potential tax revenue.
    According to a South China Morning Post report, Jockey Club director of trading Patrick Jay said the problem required a coordinated government and societal response.”It’s time for people to stop thinking that illegal sports betting is not a blood crime,” the newspaper cited him as saying. “The links to organized crime are real and HK$12 billion is equivalent to 60 percent of the Hong Kong government’s Community Care Fund.
    The jockey club offers the only legal form of gambling in the former British colony and also offers limited sports betting. But Jay pointed out that illegal operations are offering a vast array of possible match options and also offer credit.
    Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are planning a major crackdown of illegal activities during the FIFA 2014 World Cup, which is scheduled to kick off in Brazil this week, with police forming a special team to target the problem.
    During the last tournament in 2010, H.K. police seized some $386 million in illegal sports betting receipts.
    Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Ping Wo Fund, set up in 2003 to prevent problem gambling, is beginning a major campaign targeting soccer betting in the run up to the FIFA 2014 World Cup.
    At the opening of the roadshow, Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing said the campaign was to enhance public awareness of the negative impact of excessive gambling.
    It is the largest anti-football gambling campaign ever organized in Hong Kong, involving more than 70 organizations and schools and over 100 activities.
    The campaign was lead managed by Ping Wo and co-organized by the Home Affairs and the police.