While betting turnover here continues to slide, the story is not the same in Britain, and some of the reasons may be instructive for those grappling with Hong Kong's problems. Britain's 'Big Three' bookmakers have all returned substantially improved turnover results since betting tax was abolished there last October. The latest figures came from William Hill on Monday, showing turnover for the first six months of the year up 47 per cent on the comparable period last year and profits up 32 per cent. Even allowing for the fact the 2001 figures were distorted due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease which caused widespread cancellation of racing, the increase provides the latest evidence that abolishing betting duty for a tax on profits does have a beneficial effect on turnover - an argument the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been advancing over the past two years, so far without success. Leaving aside the 2001 figures, what this week's William Hill results mean is that turnover in Britain this year could be heading towards a 60 per cent increase since 2000. But, while the change in the tax regime is playing a substantial role, there are other factors at work which Hong Kong would do well to heed. The soccer World Cup was a boost to the British betting industry, with William Hill reporting the event alone provided three per cent of its turnover for the first half of this year (or, on an average basis, more than 20 per cent of its turnover for the month of June) and almost one-sixth of the profit. What Hong Kong would have given to have the same benefit, instead of suffering a 10 per cent downturn in racing turnover at the five meetings held during the World Cup in June. As well as a new tax regime, then, Hong Kong needs betting diversification to reverse, or at least hold back, the turnover decline. It is surely no coincidence that Hong Kong's turnover has been falling at a time when other countries have seen an explosion in betting on soccer and other sports - a benefit denied through legal channels in Hong Kong due to intransigence on the soccer betting issue.