The loss of football betting during lockdown has cost the Hong Kong Jockey Club around HK$1 billion a month.
Hong Kong.- Covid-19 confinement measures have lost the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) HK$2 billion (about US$260 million) in football betting alone.
With most major football action called off for almost two months, local punters only had horse racing to be on during the period.
HKJC’s chief executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, estimated there would be a signficant impact on the institution’s annual revenue. He told the South China Morning Post the lack of football was losing it around HK$1 billion per month.
Fixed-odds football betting became a lucrative operation for the Jockey Club after it was legalised in 2003. It made HK$15.3 billion from $114.1 billion in turnover on football betting in 2018-19.
The return to the field of the Premier League in the UK, Serie A in Italy and La Liga in Spain is expected to offer some chance to recover losses from the last two months.
Nonetheless, Engelbrecht-Bresges said the crisis demonstrated the importance of horse racing in Hong Kong, and that he does not see a change of focus for the club’s operations despite football betting offering larger returns for a fraction of the cost.
He said: “Even if you look at football customers, 75 per cent of football turnover comes from original racing customer.”
HKJC’s Mark Six lottery, which brought in more than HK$8 billion in 2019, has been closed since February 1, but may return in July.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “On a normal Mark Six day we have 400,000 to 500,000 people going into the off-course betting branches.”
He restated that the lottery and HKJC’s charities are at the core of the Jockey Club’s DNA.