The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) yesterday hosted the signing of a landmark agreement with seven to combat unauthorised offshore betting and illegal operators. While enforcement rests largely with each country's government, the 'Good Neighbour Policy' opens the door for the operators to persuade their respective administrations to introduce laws to cover such issues. Asian Racing Federation chairman Lawrence Wong Chi-kong said: 'The agreement is really the issue about protecting the welfare of the community and to respect each jurisdiction's betting integrity. After all, it is a source of the government's taxation.' The policy was signed last year by the Japan Racing Association and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Six other members of the Asian Racing Federation joined the pact yesterday - Australia, Singapore, Turkey, New Zealand, India and South Korea. Under the agreement, they cannot allow residents of the participating countries to bet on their horse races without authorisation. Together the eight nations account for about 60 per cent of the world's horse-racing betting. The Macau Jockey Club, which makes most of its revenue from wagers by Hong Kong people, has not signed the agreement. 'So far the Macau Jockey Club has not decided whether to join,' said Yen Tai-kei, spokesman of the club, which is also a member of the Asian Racing Federation. Still, Mr Wong, who is also the chief executive of the HKJC, was optimistic that other countries would join the pact. 'It is my understanding that soon all 20 countries in the Asian Racing Federation will sign this agreement,' he said. Australian Racing Board chairman Bob Charley said he hoped the policy would lead governments around the world to 'make it a criminal offence to offer wagering on racing in other countries'. Presently, the Gambling Ordinance forbids Hong Kong punters to place bets with any entity other than the HKJC. It is permitted when they travel outside Hong Kong or call a friend to place a bet for them. Mr Wong said illegal and overseas betting was estimated to be the same as the total revenue from HKJC's horse-race wagers, at between $70 billion and $80 billion a year. Other Asian Racing Federation representatives could not give an estimate of how much is lost to illegal bookmakers each year.