Punters still splashing the cash, despite the financial storm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2009, 12:00am

Betting turnover has proved itself to be remarkably resilient this season with so much turmoil in the business world.

The raw figures on the tote betting for 55 meetings to date show turnover to have dropped by just HK$800 million - a very respectable 1.68 per cent year on year, considering the circumstances.

Now that number is slightly distorted to the positive as the meetings are out of sync: meeting 55 last year was a midweek at Happy Valley, not a feature meeting like the Chairman's Trophy fixture last Sunday. But even an adjustment to compensate for that fact leaves the Jockey Club pari-mutuel holdings down by only a tick over two per cent.

Should that carry through to the season's end, we are looking at a drop of around HK$1.5 billion for the full term and a final figure still higher than the 2006-07 season, which was hailed as a victory for the introduction of the high-volume ticket rebates and the re-taking of bets from the illegal market.

Throw in the 'new' money of the Jockey Challenge - about HK$5 million per meeting in turnover, although it must be remembered that fixed odds betting does not guarantee a daily profit - and the damage has been surprisingly light.

There would be many businesses feeling the pinch from the financial crisis which would be happy to be down only two per cent.