Hong Kong Jockey Club
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The Hong Kong Jockey Club posted record revenues in the last financial year. Photo: Shutterstock

Hong Kong Jockey Club posts record revenues of HK$280 billion in 2020-21 despite coronavirus pandemic

  • Club reports modest rise in horse-racing income, but massive 51.4 per cent increase in revenue from football wagers
  • Overall revenue was up nearly 28 per cent from 2019-20, and substantially higher than the previous record, set in 2017-18
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has posted record betting revenues of HK$279.7 billion (US$35.9 billion) for the 2020-21 financial year, logging a nearly 28 per cent year-on-year rise even as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy.

In its annual report, released on Tuesday, the club disclosed that it had paid the government a record HK$25 billion in duties, profits tax and lotteries fund contributions – up more than 20 per cent from the previous financial year – and had handed out another HK$4.5 billion in approved charity donations.

The club’s previous record for annual turnover, set in the 2017-18 financial year, was HK$234 billion.

Horse racing bets contributed HK$136.1 billion to revenue in 2020-21, up 12.5 per cent from the previous year. Football betting, meanwhile, soared by a staggering 51.4 per cent to HK$140.2 billion.

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The club attributed the robust growth to the resumption of major leagues and the rescheduling of postponed matches and competitions, such as Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020, resulting in an exceptionally large number of matches in 2020-21.

However, Mark Six lottery revenue was down 34.3 per cent, to HK$3.4 billion, as services were suspended between February and September when anti-pandemic measures forced the closure of off-course betting branches.

Founded in 1884, the Jockey Club is the sole licence holder in Hong Kong for the operation and management of horse race and football betting, and the Mark Six Lottery. It operates as a not-for-profit organisation and allocates its surplus revenue to charitable and community projects.

The club said the past year had been “one of the most challenging” in its history, with limited racecourse attendance and service suspensions at off-course betting branches and Telebet due to the pandemic.

“But racing never stopped. Thanks to its protective ‘racing bubble’ the club raced on, with not a single race lost,” it said.

The club says pandemic-related service suspensions at off-course betting branches have been a challenge. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

The club attributed its strong financial performance over the past year to the success of its digital products, with over 90 per cent of wagering revenue being generated via online and mobile channels.

So-called commingling, through which the club cooperates with betting authorities overseas, contributed some 17 per cent of overall horse racing turnover last season. The club said the arrangements underscored “the attractiveness of Hong Kong racing overseas even under pandemic conditions”.

“Through World Pools the club is now expanding the concept, with Hong Kong fast emerging as a global hub for commingling on the world’s premier race meetings,” it said.

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The Jockey Club’s chairman, Philip Chen Nan-lok, said the organisation had shown resilience and resourcefulness in maintaining its operations throughout a fast-changing public health situation. “Most of all it has always made the right choice, which is to put the community first,” he added.

Looking forward, the club said its most exciting prospects lay in the Greater Bay Area. In May the organisation signed a cooperation agreement with the Guangzhou municipal government to jointly promote the bay area’s equine industry.
“The club’s vision is to grow its brand through leveraging its triangle of racecourses at Sha Tin, Happy Valley and Conghua [in Guangzhou], with the ultimate aim of developing a fully fledged equine industry in the Greater Bay Area,” it said.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Jockey Club posts record revenues from betting