The Hong Kong Jockey Club has criticised a proposal by the New People’s Party (NPP) to increase football betting duty, warning that it could lead to the club being unable to compete with illegal or offshore betting competitors.
On Thursday, the NPP outlined a series of budget demands to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, which included increasing football betting duty from 50 percent to 80 percent.
But in a statement published later that day, the club said the proposal fails to understand the betting business and that, if approved, would “create irreversible damage to Hong Kong” and affect its business model.
It said while the NPP’s proposed duty increase would theoretically raise taxation from the club from HK$25 billion to HK$31 billion, it would see a drastic reduction in the club’s operating revenue from HK$15 billion to HK$9 billion. It said this would result in either a zero or negative surplus, and prevent the club from making investments and charitable donations.
The Jockey Club said it's facing “fierce competition in an uneven playing field from Macau as well as illegal and offshore bookmakers across the globe,” adding that other gaming operators provide better odds with a wider range of betting products such as basketball and Formula One racing.
It went on to warn that any increase in the tax on football betting would end up being passed on to consumers, take away the club’s competitiveness, and drive more Hong Kong residents to bet with illegal and offshore bookmakers.
“Under these circumstances, government will only receive less but not more tax and duties,” the club said.