The Jockey Club's latest move to notify the day's 'gross margin' rather than a raw betting turnover figure may seem like semantics to some, but it could prove to be a shrewd move as the club battles the anti-gambling lobby for the hearts and minds of mainstream Hong Kong. Until now, the Jockey Club has announced betting turnover at the end of every race meeting. Industry professionals regard it as important, a key indicator of the health of the racing game, as well as the current trend of business. However, betting turnover of nearly HK$1 billion per day is a number that the person on the street, earning the average monthly wage of HK$11,200, cannot comprehend. The gap between his or her modest monthly pay cheque and the Club's seemingly monstrous betting numbers may well be the foundation of jealousy and resentment in some quarters. To those who don't understand - and that's probably a large percentage of the population - it may make the Jockey Club seem huge and money-hungry, and the anti-gambling proponents are only too happy to paint it as a big machine that gets fat and rich off the misery of others. The truth, of course, is nothing like that. Which explains why the Jockey Club is now reporting, at the end of each racing business day, in a way that the layman will more readily understand. For starters, 82.5 per cent of normal bets go back to players. Takeouts on exotic bets are higher, but discounts to higher volume players drag it all down. In the end, the 'gross margin' off Sunday's race meeting was HK$171 million, or 16.2 per cent on turnover. Guess what happens then? The government gets its tax - not at 15 per cent the way mainstream Hongkongers are taxed, but at the prevailing Sheriff of Nottingham rates, 72.5 per cent before costs. From Sunday's HK$171 million, the government cash registers ring up HK$124 million before the club has paid a single bill. The club's renowned charity contribution is unfailingly met, call that HK$12 million per meeting, and from the remaining HK$35 million, the Jockey Club puts on the entire show - and that includes the salaries of the 4,800 full-time and 20,200 part-time staff, paying prize money (over $12.3 million last Sunday), the maintenance of two world-class racecourses and catering to its 30,000-plus on-course customers. Executive director of racing Bill Nader described Sunday's Centenary Sprint Cup programme as 'a great result for the government of Hong Kong'. In other words, do nothing, get in the way of the club's success, but still put the fiscal hand up for HK$124 million for one day. So the next time the single-issue fanatics that populate the anti-gambling lobby try to contrive an anti-racing, anti-gambling argument, remember the words of the late US president John F. Kennedy: 'The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.'