The Jockey Club's '6HaFu', soccer gambling's first truly exotic bet, may be regarded as a wagering novelty. But history may ultimately rule that its introduction last week marked the beginning of something far more substantial. The 6HaFu - selecting the half and full-time results for six selected European soccer matches - took a very respectable $5.6 million-plus in its first week. And, with no punter successfully nominating the winning combination, next week's 6HaFu will carry a $4.9 million jackpot. In the gaming business, jackpots throw out an irresistible call to people from all walks of life to have an inexpensive flutter, with the potential of a big pay-off if their numbers come up. With its first soccer jackpot now a reality, overseas soccer analysts say the Jockey Club is perfectly placed to replicate the success of its widely acclaimed Triple Trio racing bet, which often boasts jackpots of more than $100 million and once ballooned to more than $800 million. 'In fact, this is the first serious pari-mutuel bet [in which the odds are determined by the total amount ultimately bet] on football, anywhere in the world,' said the analyst, who asked not to be named. 'And Hong Kong is probably the only place in the world that could make it work because the punters here are already accustomed to pari-mutuel betting as well as having experience with exotic bet types on horse racing.' Like the famous Triple Trio, the 6HaFu has potential as an export product, with overseas punters adding to the Hong Kong pool via foreign agencies, which receive a small commission. 'The first week of the 6HaFu was a very interesting start,' Jockey Club chief executive Lawrence Wong said. 'We are delighted that this bet type, which is so innovative, seems to have been accepted so well. From our point of view, what we are doing is listening to our customers and trying to meet their demands.' For the past year, the Jockey Club has fielded all sorts of criticism over its soccer betting operations, not the least being its supposed inability to compete with illegal bookmakers. 'What we ask is that people try to be fair and see the whole thing in balance,' Mr Wong pleaded. 'Our role is to help the government control and regulate soccer betting, which was previously an activity that was exclusively conducted by illegal bookmakers. 'But with everything we do, we need to bear in mind the social implications. There is a restraint on what we are able to do, compared with what the illegals can do, and we must always do our best to take a balanced approach.' The Jockey Club will not reveal its soccer betting turnover, though sources suggest that punters are wagering $300-350 million a week. 'I cannot comment on turnover figures at present,' Mr Wong said. 'With soccer betting turnover, we are in a no-win situation. If the numbers are too low, we will be accused of not doing enough to get a fair share of the illegal market, but if the turnover is too big, we are accused of going overboard in promoting gambling.' Mr Wong defended the club against critics who say the Jockey Club should regulate, not popularise, football betting. 'We have very active programmes to educate problem gamblers and we have security guards at off-course betting centres checking ID's of young people to prevent under-age gambling,' Mr Wong said. 'We spend a lot of time and money on education and prevention of problem gambling. But sometimes I think people expect too much of us. Preventing under-age gambling is not just a Jockey Club responsibility, but something for parents and the education system.'