With legalised soccer betting six months old next week, the Post looks at the future of the Jockey Club's new venture - and whether it has been a winner Although soccer betting through the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been legal for almost half a year, it does not appear to have succeeded in its stated goal of beating the underground bookmakers at their own game. While the Jockey Club will not reveal how well its new business is doing, academics and illegal bookmakers agree that more people are betting on football games - but not all punters are going through the legal route. Mr Lee, who was once a tang chai, or middleman between punters and underground bookmakers, said media coverage of soccer gambling had helped to promote the activity. Illegal bookies were getting more business now than before the legalisation on August 1, he said. 'Now that it is legal, everyone knows about it,' he said. Illegal bookies provided better odds than the Jockey Club and the punter did not have to pay cash up front. Cash was transferred into bank accounts after the results were known. The downside was that the punter took the risk that nothing would be paid when they won. Mr Lee quit being a tang chai in April after some customers failed to pay him more than $50,000 for their bets. He had to pay the illegal bookie out of his own pocket. While he is no longer the middleman, he still bets on the games with illegal bookies himself because they give better odds. Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor of applied social sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who has conducted a survey on soccer gambling, said it was too early to determine conclusively if legalisation had beaten the black market. But based on his observations and speaking with educators, Professor Chung said more people were betting on soccer games than before - both through the Jockey Club and the illegal channels. For now, legalisation did seem to be effective in preventing illegal gambling, he said. 'But then again it's hard to get to the goal in half a year. We have to give it more time.' The Jockey Club will have to make public some figures from its soccer gambling operations in March when it files its taxes. Professor Chung said a better assessment of the situation could be possible after the peak soccer season, from March to May, and when the tax figures were available. One troubling issue is that students are starting to bet on games and many educators do not know how to deal with the situation, Professor Chung said. 'The biggest problem is that many teachers and principals are not very proactive,' he said. 'They are afraid to promote gambling education in school because they don't know how the parents would react.' Since gambling education is not included in teachers' training, Professor Chung said many did not know what to do. The Education and Manpower Bureau has printed a set of guidelines for educators, but there have not been enough courses to teach them how to handle the problem, he added.