The Hong Kong Jockey Club (“The Club”) notes that the 2023-24 Budget announced by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (“HKSARG”) today (22 February 2023) has included a Special Football Betting Duty (“SFBD”) of HK$2.4 billion per annum from 2023/24 to 2027/28, amounting to an additional HK$12 billion betting duty from the Club to the public purse.
During the Budget consultation, the Club has expressed its views and strong reservation on any increase in betting duty rates, which are already the highest in the world. Any permanent hike in betting duty rates will create structural problems irreversibly damaging the Club’s successful integrated business model and continued competitiveness, while benefiting only illegal and offshore betting operators. Most importantly, such increase will adversely impact on the Club’s ability to contribute to the community through our donations to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (“the Trust”) on a sustainable basis.
The Club has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic to overcome the exceptional economic and social challenges. For example, apart from our regular charity donations, the Trust has donated HK$2.1 billion in 2021/22 for pandemic-related initiatives and for HKSAR 25th Anniversary community activities. We understand that our city is now on the way to economic recovery, and there are still many livelihood issues to be addressed by the Government. Consistent with our purpose, and in such unprecedented times, the Club understands the rationale behind the Government’s decision to impose additional football betting duty of HK$2.4 billion per annum for the coming five years, with a total fixed amount of HK$12 billion. During the same period, despite the fact that the substantial reduction in income due to SFBD will impact on our donations from the Club to the Trust significantly, the Trust will not reduce its regular charity donations to the community, which amounted to HK$4.5 billion in 2021/22.
The Club reiterates the paramount needs to maintain our global and sustainable competitiveness, to effectively combat illegal and offshore betting operators, and to seize the market opportunities through strategic investments in our IT systems and racing assets to strengthen our role as an international racing and wagering hub, similar to the role of Hong Kong being the Country’s International Financial Centre. In this regard, we strongly appeal to the Government to critically review and reduce the betting duty rates on a long term basis, which are the highest in the world, in particular on horse racing which stand at 72.5% to 75%. Moreover, we need the support of the Government for the Club to bring in more simulcast and world-pool opportunities. Furthermore, we also request the Government to commence a review on the licensing conditions imposed on football betting, with a view to giving the Club the much needed flexibility and competitiveness to respond to the ever increasing competitions and challenges from illegal and offshore betting operators, and to mitigate the impact of the decrease in revenues due to the additional football betting duty payment.
The Club is committed to its purpose of acting continuously for the betterment of society. We are confident that with the concerted efforts of various sectors of the community under the leadership of the current term Government, the economic situation of Hong Kong will improve and the temporary and exceptional fiscal challenge of HKSAR Government will soon be overcome.