Hong Kong Jockey Club hits record high HK$234 billion turnover
Concerns have surfaced after media reports suggested the club had actually only paid out a small part of the funds that it pledged in donations
The Hong Kong Jockey Club enjoyed another bumper year as overall turnover for the city’s sole betting operator surged by 8.1 per cent to a record high of HK$234 billion (US$29.8 billion), according to its annual report released on Thursday.
This meant the club paid the government HK$22.6 billion in duty and profits tax, up about 4 per cent.
Charitable donations by the club also grew by 2.4 per cent to reach a new high of HK$4.2 billion in 2017-18.
Horse-racing bets contributed HK$122.8 billion in turnover for 2017-18 – marking a 6 per cent rise on the previous year. Football betting turnover stood at HK$103.1 billion for an 11.2 per cent climb. Meanwhile, Mark Six lottery bets yielded only a slight 1.2 per cent increase to HK$8.1 billion.
Despite the 6 per cent rise in horse-racing turnover, the club’s net margin dipped by 0.2 per cent. That resulted in the duty on race betting the government collected suffering a 0.1 per cent loss to HK$12.94 billion.
Identical to last year, the club contributed HK$1.2 billion to the Lotteries Fund, which is meant to finance capital expenditure for social welfare projects in the city.
In 2017-18, unclaimed prizes amounting to HK$60 million were transferred back to the pool. The figure compared with HK$67 million the previous year.
Mark Six lottery proceeds are the main source of income for the fund, which is managed by the Social Welfare Department.
According to annual reports over the past five years, the share of Mark Six lottery turnover of the total amounts bet has been steadily declining, from 4.54 per cent in 2013-14 to the latest 3.46 per cent.
The club’s outgoing chairman, Simon Ip Sik-on, attributed the club’s overall “remarkable achievements” in part to the success of its “integrated business model”.
Founded in 1884, the Jockey Club is the sole licence holder in Hong Kong for the operation and management of horse-race betting, 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.
In 2017-18, the club’s Charities Trust approved a total of HK$4.2 billion in donations to 222 community programmes in areas serving young people, the elderly, sports and arts, as well as culture and heritage. One of the biggest approved donations of the year was HK$500 million to City University for the establishment of an educational and research centre for veterinary and life sciences.
In the 2016-17 year, the club contributed HK$4.1 billion to charitable causes.
It further made a special donation of HK$3.5 billion towards building the Hong Kong Palace Museum to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover. The sum was the biggest single donation ever promised by the club.
Breakdowns of the actual payment and pledged donations were not immediately made available.
Concerns have surfaced after media reports suggested the club had actually only paid out a small part of the funds that it had pledged.
At the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday, Anthony Chow Wing-kin was elected chairman and Lester Kwok Chi-hang as deputy chairman for the coming year.
Simon Ip retired from the board after 19 years as a club steward and the past four years as chairman.
Looking ahead to the club’s future work, Chow said he was looking forward to upholding the club’s work in bettering society.
“Our objective is quite clear: to keep on developing the club’s performance across every aspect of its business model, so that we can continue providing the best possible support to the community.”
Additional reporting by Kimmy Chung