The irony of the Hong Kong Jockey Club being named as the operator for legal soccer betting is that the main sufferer is likely to be its own foundation of gambling on horse racing. The announcement was highly predictable, given that the club has an efficient, well-respected and trusted infrastructure already in place for race betting. The club operates as a so-called non-profit organisation, though in reality it operates for profit and its dividends go to a different set of shareholders - the government and charities. Had another operator been decided upon, the Jockey Club would have been a major loser and that would have had negative implications for a community in which it is the biggest taxpayer and the largest source of charity revenues. But just what sort of a winner the Jockey Club or Hong Kong will be from this remains to be seen. Punters who might otherwise be at Happy Valley or Sha Tin or playing by Telebet, may be just as comfortable sitting down to Arsenal and Manchester United on the television and having an interest in that instead. No one knows the figure for certain, but some Hong Kong race betting professionals believe racing turnover will drop by as much as 20-25 per cent - or $16-$20 billion on last season's turnover figure - when legal soccer gambling begins. That will be on top of the racing turnover drop currently running at more than 10 per cent in the current season and around 35 per cent since 1997. In the event of a drop of 20 per cent in race betting, the government revenue generated from soccer will need to be more than $3 billion to maintain its returns from gambling, let alone increase them. That figure is quite possible, but the details of the betting model used will have a great deal to do with whether the Jockey Club operation catches much of the illegal or offshore soccer betting, or whether its simple forms of soccer betting fail to compete with the myriad options available from illegal and offshore bookmakers. If it fails to compete with the incentives of established bookmakers like Ladbrokes, William Hill or even the illegal operator on the corner, then the legalisation of soccer betting may be a net negative result to the community even before taking account of addicted gamblers.