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Hong Kong Jockey Club open to NBA betting if gov’t approves: CE

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The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, has expressed openness to catering to NBA betting if permitted by authorities, contingent upon governmental decisions.

In an interview for The Standard, the HKJC Chief Executive highlighted the potential for legal channels to capture a significant portion of the current basketball betting market, estimating up to 60 percent of the 150,000 punters currently engaging in illegal basketball betting could be redirected to legal avenues.

Engelbrecht-Bresges emphasized the exponential growth of the illegal betting market, particularly in the past five years, attributed to digitalization and the emergence of cryptocurrency.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in online activity further fueled the growth of illegal betting on basketball, with many resorting to offshore accounts outside Hong Kong.

According to Engelbrecht-Bresges, around 560,000 Hong Kong punters utilized illegal bookmakers last year, with approximately 100,000 to 150,000 engaging in basketball betting.

Legalizing basketball gambling could potentially attract a significant portion of these punters to bet through the HKJC, reducing the dominance of illegal platforms.

The Chief Executive outlined the considerable size of the illegal sports betting market, estimating a turnover of around HK$350 billion ($45 billion), with basketball accounting for 15 percent of the total turnover.

The potential turnover from legal basketball betting could reach HK$52.5 billion ($6.7 billion), rivaling the turnover from football betting within the club.

However, Engelbrecht-Bresges highlighted the substantial investment required to establish infrastructure for basketball betting, estimated at HK$1.5 billion ($191.7 million) to HK$2.5 billion ($319.6 million). Moreover, he projected a legislative process of around one-and-a-half years to legalize basketball betting, drawing parallels with the timeframe for football betting legislation.

China market

To the same newspaper, Engelbrecht-Bresges stated the HKJC aimed to elevate the national equine industry in China, particularly in the Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area regions, to a “world-class” standard.

In 2018, the HKJC established a presence in Conghua, Guangdong, with Engelbrecht-Bresges stating that this facility serves as a pivotal component in realizing the goal of elevating the industry’s standards, serving as a hub for both equestrian events and horse racing.

To support these ambitions, the HKJC has invested in infrastructure, including a quarantine station within the training center. This facility ensures adherence to stringent biosecurity measures, creating an equine disease-free zone essential for maintaining the health and integrity of the racing industry.

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