Racing, Hong Kong Jockey Club

The Macau Jockey Club can still contribute to the SAR’s overall tourist attractiveness and its financial woes should be considered a critical issue for the city, University of Macau Faculty of Business Administration associate professor Ricardo Siu told AGB.

A recent TDM Canal Macau report indicated that Macau’s sole horse racing betting operation could shutter as early as December, with employees possibly being made redundant afterward.

The MJC has neglected to provide comment on the progress of alleged works it has pledged under its MOP1.5 billion ($185.65 million) redevelopment plan – the basis for which it was given a new concession back in 2018, running until 2042.

In statements to TDM and Macau Daily News, the MJC confirmed that it had reapplied for a new racing season to commence on September 29th, and run until August of 2024, claiming that it had no intention of closing in December of this year, although the promised development projects under its concession having not yet been initiated.

“Many sectors in society are wondering how the jockey club can still contribute to the city, considering its renewal project has still not advanced and remains an appealing attraction when compared, for example, to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. For me, the unfavorable business performance faced by the Macau Jockey Club is a critical issue that may lower its potential contributions to the city’s tourism, especially the possible investment in the non-gaming facilities inside the track or outside the track in Taipa,” Siu told AGB.

“After its license renewal in 2018, the three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly hard hit its business turnover. Personally, I hope the MJC can find ways to revitalize its business performance in the coming year. For example, cooperating with some tour groups and prompting its track for tourists in Southeast Asia regions, etc,” notes Siu.

The Macau Jockey Club recorded accumulated losses of MOP2.1 billion ($260.2 million) in 2022, an increase of about MOP200 million ($24.7 million) compared to the previous year, while horse racing revenues dropped from MOP47 million ($5.8 million) in 2021 to MOP39 million ($4.8 million) in 2022.

Horse racing contributed MOP22 million ($2.7 million) to the gross gaming revenue in the first half of thi year, while Macau’s overall gross gaming revenue reached MOP80.4 billion ($9.9 billion) in the first six months of the year.

As a comparison, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has announced a rise in revenue of up to HK$141 billion ($17.9 billion) during the 2022/23 season.

The number of horses in Macau has also decreased from a peak of 1,200 twenty years ago to about 220 currently, and the number of races per year has also decreased from 1,200 in 2003 to just one race per week. Under the new contract, the MJC also has until 2042 to increase its operations to over 1,200 races per year. 

Meanwhile, TDM Canal Macau cited various sources confirming that the race track has been prohibited from accepting bets from abroad, including regions such as Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Failure to comply with the terms of  the contract could result in the cancellation of the company’s concession and in the reversion of its land back to the government.

Still, Siu underlined that the Macau Jockey Club can still be an attraction to some tourists as a form of non-casino and outdoor gaming activity when they visit Macau.

“Although the horsing racing tracks in Hong Kong are very famous, some Hong Kong and Mainland tourists may still find Macau’s racing track an alternative for them to visit. For example, its location in Taipa is convenient for tourists. Nevertheless, how to redesign its existing business model to make it more attractive for tourists to spend on both gaming and non-gaming facilities would definitely be a challenge to its top management,” the researcher noted.