Illegal betting on HK races hits $12.8b in 2015

The estimated amount of illegal betting on Hong Kong horse racing hit about $12.8 billion last year, about matching the $13.8 billion bet legally, HK Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges told the Asian Racing Conference in India.

He said the majority of those illegal wagers in Hong Kong were coming from the Philippines.

“Very specifically in one Philippines-based exchange, Citibet, one reliable estimate is that US$7.8 billion of the illegal money on Hong Kong racing is passing through that operation,” he was cited as saying in the South China Morning Post.

Globally, Engelbrecht-Bresges said estimates put the illegal market at about $500 billion globally, and at about $350 billion in Asia.

He said the threat to racing from illegal gambling had accelerated over recent years, with the market going from local to global.

“Illegal gambling has always been a threat to the integrity of sport or racing and you see now every day the threats to cricket, football and tennis.”

He also said racing revenue was also under threat from an increase in general sports betting, the rise in fantasy sports and also from casinos.

As gambling revenue from high rollers has slumped, the casinos are becoming more aggressive in marketing to the mass sector, which has long been the preserve of the jockey club, he said.

Engelbrecht-Bresges is also chairman of the Asia Racing Federation.