All systems go for Macau cross-bets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:00am

The Macau Jockey Club will commence operations this Sunday as a conduit for one-way betting on Hong Kong racing from punters in Macau after government approval on both sides of the Pearl Delta was granted yesterday afternoon.

The start will coincide with the running of the Hong Kong Macau Trophy at Sha Tin, only one of two races annually in which horses trained in Macau can take on Hong Kong-based horses under handicap conditions, and only the third such event ever run.

'We had communicated to our government that we felt it was appropriate and desirable to start on Sunday with the interport race, so we are very pleased that they have seen fit to grant their approval in time for the meeting,' said the Jockey Club's executive director of betting, Henry Chan Shing-kai, yesterday. 'People in Macau will be able to bet into the Hong Kong pools for win, place, quinella and quinella place - the most popular bet types - and we are hopeful this will bring in extra revenue to our pools. It will take time to modify existing systems to enable bets for more exotic pools.' Chan said the 'rough estimate' of the Macau Jockey Club on potential turnover through its outlets was between $1 billion and $2 billion per season. 'Since it is their marketplace, MJC would have a better knowledge of what to expect, but it is the first time this has been done, so it is difficult to know for sure,' said Chan.

Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli and Stanley Ho Hung-sun, the chairman of Macau Horse Racing Ltd, jointly welcomed the new operation with its win-win potential. 'The new arrangement exemplifies the Hong Kong Jockey Club's effort in exporting its world-class racing, in generating new income to contribute to its betting turnover and, more importantly, contributing a steady revenue to the HKSAR government,' said Arculli. Chan said there would be a cut-off time of two minutes at Macau outlets to enable 'bets made through Macau to be placed into the Hong Kong pool and be properly reflected in the odds' before the scheduled start of Hong Kong races, and he stressed that existing legal bans would be maintained.

'We want it to be quite clear so that people understand - even though the money will still end up in the Hong Kong betting pool, someone who is in Hong Kong and has a bet on racing here through the Macau operation will be committing an illegal act,' Chan said.

'The operation is to allow bets to be placed from Macau with HKJC and part of the agreement strictly forbids the promotion of the operation in Hong Kong or soliciting business from Hong Kong people,' he added.