Jockey Club turnover has shot up since licences were issued Turnover has gone through the roof at the Macau Jockey Club (MJC) since the government gave licences to a limited number of on-course bookmakers, with money believed to be flowing in from the mainland. A year after the Hong Kong gambling ordinance decimated turnover levels in Macau and called the future of the club into question, the MJC has bounced back with some huge gains, headlined by a new one-day record turnover of $62.4 million two weeks ago. It beat the $58 million set two years ago during the Hong Kong off-season. MJC director of racing Ian Paterson said yesterday that the licensing of the bookmakers was a 'good news story'. 'There aren't too many places in the world these days that can boast about betting turnover going up,' he said. So far, it is understood that the government has agreed to license up to six bookmakers. Three are operating and a fourth one may begin operation at the next meeting. The bookmakers service a strictly off-track clientele by telephone from the fifth floor of the grandstand at the Taipa track. Punters on course cannot access them. The government's decision means an activity that used to be conducted off the track and outside the law has now been brought into the club. Both the racing industry and the government are getting the benefit of their betting turnover. 'Clearly, these bookmakers are having a positive impact on our wagering turnover as they put a certain amount of money back through the tote to balance their books,' Mr Paterson said. 'And if the stronger betting pools make the [tote] wagering more attractive to the rest of the on-course punters, then that's a good thing.' Mr Paterson said he understood the bookmakers were sourcing 'new money' from the mainland in a way the race club could not. 'There doesn't seem to be any downside. There has been no adverse reaction and everyone is very relaxed about it. Racing is benefiting from new money and stronger income streams, and the government is in a position to both control and benefit from the bookmakers' activities. 'They pay the same dividends as the Macau tote, but as to the exact conditions or services they offer their customers, I couldn't say. 'It's up to them how they manage their business, but I've seen their operations and I can tell you they are very professional.' Bookmaking is illegal in Hong Kong and over the past two years authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on black-market bookmakers. On June 5, a syndicate of five local men were jailed for 30 months each on bookmaking and money-laundering charges. Police said their banking records showed they had turned over almost $410 million in the past three years. The Hong Kong Jockey Club estimates that betting turnover through illegal channels in Hong Kong is almost on a par with what the club turns over - $78 billion a year - and the racing industry, the government and charities don't get a cent of it. It doesn't seem to be bothering anyone in Macau, however. The club's record betting turnover was recorded on a 12-race weekend meeting on the turf track, but the midweek sand track meetings are holding up strongly as well. 'On Tuesday we lost the last two races because of the electrical storm, but we still turned over $32 million on the eight races,' Mr Paterson said. 'We're now averaging $2.5 million in the win pool for every race.'