Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), the only legal gambling institution in the former British colony, has reported that wagers of HK$93.8 billion (US$ 12bn) were placed on 83 horseracing meets in the fiscal year ending June 30. In comparison, this amount exceeds total bets at Nevada’s casinos by 19 percent.
Revenue at the two racetracks in the Chinese territory increased by 9 percent year-on-year for the 2012/13 racing season, buoyed by wine events and concerts attracting younger crowds. Turnover surpassed the previous record set during the 1996/97 season, when revenue reached HK$ 64bn. Contributions to the Government were HK$ 11bn, an increase of 8.6 percent over the previous financial year.
Wagers made at HKJC were considerably more than at Nevada’s casinos during the fiscal period, for the first time in ten years, according to data compiled from the Jockey Club and Nevada regulators. The club has invested almost HK$ 3bn in the past two years upgrading its facilities, helping to expand the target demographic and lure gambling patrons from Macau.
According to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Gaming Research, total revenue in Nevada’s casinos was US$ 5.6bn (approx. HK$ 43.4bn) for the six months ending May 2013. This was up 3.14 percent year-on-year statewide, with revenue up during the period by 6.46 percent to $3.25bn on the Las Vegas Strip and 1.59 percent to $256,201 in Downtown Las Vegas.
“The figures have been extremely good,” proclaimed Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, HKJC CEO, “A lot of people were sceptical about the revitalisation we have undertaken but the results are positive. Our revitalisation strategy for racing, aimed at addressing the needs of different customer segments and positioning Hong Kong racing as world-class sporting entertainment, has helped to grow our base of racing fans significantly.”
Engelbrecht-Bresges said another goal is to attract as much as HK $10bn of bets on Hong Kong races annually through so-called ‘commingling arrangements’ with overseas partners. The organisation is also looking at ways to utilise its monopoly and expand internet gambling services, following the legislative passage that allows gives HKJC exclusivity to provide Hong Kong residents with online gaming.
“From a sporting point of view, it has been a fantastic season for Hong Kong horses,” added Engelbrecht-Bresges, “I personally think the achievements of our horses in the international arena are something that Hong Kong can be proud of. The quality of our product has helped us to position Hong Kong on the world stage as the best racing product in the world, with integrity, clear information and competitiveness.”