Deal imminent to allow interport betting

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am

The commencement of betting into Hong Kong Jockey Club pools via Macau Jockey Club outlets is imminent, with an agreement between the clubs widely rumoured to be ready for signatures tomorrow.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director of betting, Henry Chan Shing-kai ,yesterday declined to confirm the operation would be formalised on Saturday at HKJC headquarters, but conceded the new cross-port betting is 'not far away'.

'We are very close to signing the agreement between the clubs but that does not mean the cross betting would commence immediately,' Chan clarified. 'Once the clubs have agreed, the governments on both sides need to approve formal applications we will each submit to undertake the operations. I hope it will be as soon as possible.'

In April last year, Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun estimated that as much as $100 million a meeting could be bet through Macau outlets into Hong Kong pools and forecast the operation would commence in May. The devil has indeed been in the detail, however, with government and technical obstacles having delayed it until now.

'Once the government approves it, I believe we can have this up and running very quickly. Technically, it is close to ready, though there will be a little work to complete once we have the fine details confirmed,' Chan said, but he would not disclose the HKJC estimates of what the cross-betting may be worth to turnover.

'Really, we do not have any idea. We have to rely on the Macau Jockey Club for any projections, as they are much closer to their market. Macau has not given us any formal estimate, and I don't want to talk about ball-park kind of figures without proper consideration. Our hope is that what will arrive to us through Macau will be new money to our pools.'

Chan said that the operation would not cater for all bet types at its commencement, and the pools involved will be announced with the starting date.

'Initially, there will be the standard types of pools - win, place, quinella, perhaps quinella place. The bigger exotic bets will not be available,' he said. 'To accept bets on the Triple Trio, for example, Macau's systems would need time to gear up to that.'

Unofficial Hong Kong estimates suggest a modest turnover benefit of $20-30 million a day might be more likely through the Macau operation, which some have suggested might offer better access to mainland gamblers.

But some fears have also been expressed that turnover already going to Hong Kong pools could simply be rerouted through Macau with a lower return to Hong Kong government.