Commingling set for Sunday start in United States
TVG network, which sends live feeds of races into 36 million North American homes, will accept betting for weekend Sha Tin programme
After years in the talking and many months in the making, commingling of bets on Hong Kong racing will start on the TVG network in the US this weekend.
TVG sends live horse racing vision into 36 million homes in North America, accepting betting from account holders on the races it distributes.
It will begin to accept win, place, quinella and tierce betting on Sunday's Sha Tin programme from its United States customers.
In contrast to arrangements in countries operating small, localised totalisator pools on Hong Kong races - independent of the Jockey Club's operations - commingling is the process by which those bets placed overseas are then transferred into the "home" pools here to create a larger pool and to standardise dividends.
"Everything is in place to start on Sunday and I'm 99-point- something per cent sure that it will," the Jockey Club's executive director of racing, Bill Nader, said on Monday.
"There has been growing interest in the States in Hong Kong's racing model lately and many commentators there are suggesting that the United States should be striving to emulate it.
"There are things that we have that racing there just does not - big competitive fields and high turnover, for example - and we have a high standard of integrity to go with it. They are all things that educated fans look for."
Nader said Hong Kong's success in winning both sprints at the Dubai World Cup meeting would also have spurred interest.
"People will take notice of that as a statement about the quality of our racing, so the timing is good." he said.
"We expect that fresh, commingled turnover will be small to begin with, while people become familiar with our racing. But once this starts and grows interest, other betting operators there will start taking our racing as well and we are already in discussions with some of them."
One of the crucial factors for success will be providing information to help American fans to understand Hong Kong racing and Nader said the club had been working on that factor for some months.
"We have formed a link between Equibase, the official past performance database provider for North American racing, and our own database so performance histories can be distributed in a format that will be familiar to horse-racing players there," said Nader.
Commingling of bets on Hong Kong races has been in the works for most of the past decade, but government hurdles, both here and abroad, and ironing out the technical interface to funnel the bets between jurisdictions have been obstacles.
In that time, Nader explained, even the philosophy of the Jockey Club's approach had changed.
"When we started looking at this in 2006-07 with the Las Vegas casinos, it was a different strategy and it just didn't work," Nader said. "The only one we really got up and running was Foxwoods in Connecticut, and the time difference meant that a bricks-and-mortar location was no good. People had to be in casinos at some odd times to bet on or see the races."