Horse betting monopoly extended
Gaming magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun's betting monopoly on horse racing in Macau, which is subject to annual renewal, has been extended until August of next year, the government announced yesterday.
Despite being battered by declining revenue and increasing competition from Hong Kong, the Macau Jockey Club, a unit of Mr Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), has managed to retain its government-issued monopoly on horse racing in the territory since it was purchased by Mr Ho in 1991.
An order from the Macau chief executive's office published yesterday in the territory's official government gazette extended the monopoly to August 31, 2008. It did not elaborate.
Mr Ho's horserace betting monopoly has been subject to annual renewal since 2001, the year the Macau government introduced legislation to end his monopoly on casino gaming and invited tenders from outside casino operators.
While a similar liberalisation of horse racing does not appear to be on the cards, government officials earlier this year indicated that plans were in the works to open up the market for remote gaming - or online and telephone wagering - to competition.
Mr Ho currently holds an effective monopoly on remote gaming in the territory via both the Macau Jockey Club, which takes telephone and internet bets on horse races, and his Sociedade de Lotarias e Apostas Mutuas de Macau (Macau SLOT), which holds a separate monopoly on soccer and basketball betting.
The Macau Jockey Club's betting turnover from horse racing reached a peak of 1.566 billion patacas in 2004, the year before the launch of a formal co-operation agreement with the Hong Kong Jockey Club for wagers on Hong Kong races placed in Macau.
Since the deal, Macau's revenue from horserace betting has tumbled by more than 70 per cent and fell 15.3 per cent in the first half of this year to 199 million patacas.