Slowly opening the doors to Hong Kong

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Racing fans at Sha Tin Racing fans at Sha Tin

Their trains may glide at the speed of a bullet, but government reforms can move at a snail’s pace in some Asian countries. That’s certainly been the case in Hong Kong and Japan when it comes to opening up their colossal gambling markets to international simulcasts.

Japan is still a closed shop. It is illegal for Japanese citizens to bet on foreign races while in their home country. The Japan Racing Association does have agreements permitting wagering on its races from outside of Japan, though the pari-mutuel pools are not commingled.

Hong Kong’s rulers loosened their restrictions several years ago and currently allow 10 individual races per year to be imported for wagering purposes when a local track is operating.  Fifteen simulcast days are permitted (though restricted to four hours) when no Hong Kong tracks are racing.  Commingling of wagering pools has not been permitted.

The latter may be changing, however, and wagering analysts see any movement by the Hong Kong government as a positive step toward more internationalization of racing and wagering.

“The Home Affairs Bureau has agreed to propose amendments to the Betting Ordinance, subject to Legislative Council approval in the second quarter of this year, which would pave the way for international commingling approval,” said William Nader, executive director of racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“We are one step closer but we are not quite there yet,” added Nader, who left the New York Racing Association in 2007 to move to Hong Kong and has two years remaining on his contract there.

“This allows for NO expansion in the number of races Hong Kong Jockey Club can import.”

It does allow for wagers on Hong Kong races to be merged into the HKJC’s massive pari-mutuel pools, as well as permitting bets made by Hong Kong punters to be moved into host-site pools on those rare occasions when races are simulcast into Hong Kong. Currently, Australia is the biggest wagering market on HKJC races outside of Hong Kong.

Regulations aren’t the only challenge for American races to reach Hong Kong bettors. The time zone difference puts most major U.S. races in the middle of the night in Hong Kong.

“it definitely is a step in the right direction,” said Ken Kirchner a U.S. wagering consultant whose list of clients includes Breeders’ Cup, which had simulcast agreements with the HKJC from 2008-10 but has not had access to the Hong Kong market the last two years. Wagering from Hong Kong on six Breeders’ Cup races totaled $4.9 million in 2010 after $2.9 million was bet on four Cup races in 2009.

“They are moving slowly toward the 21st Century and permitting commingling,” said Kirchner. “That’s a positive step for global racing and global wagering.”

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  • Pace Pal Pete

    We used to be able to bet Hong Kong in California.  What changed?  Does anyone know?

  • Pace Pal Pete

    We used to be able to bet Hong Kong in California.  What changed?  Does anyone know?

  • http://twitter.com/HoopsandHorses Hoops and Horses

    This is a BIG step forward, however, there is still a long way to go.   It may take a few more years, but if Japan and Hong Kong ever come on board and are for instance allowed to fully simulcast events like the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup days, the potential for hundreds of millions in new handle could see the purses for some of these races skyrocket.

  • http://twitter.com/HoopsandHorses Hoops and Horses

    This is a BIG step forward, however, there is still a long way to go.   It may take a few more years, but if Japan and Hong Kong ever come on board and are for instance allowed to fully simulcast events like the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup days, the potential for hundreds of millions in new handle could see the purses for some of these races skyrocket.

  • Gallop

    What is the HKJC and the JRA policy on computer bettors? (Allowed I assume?)
    Do they also rebate for high volume, or do they even use incentive schemes?
    Just curious.

    • RayPaulick

      Not sure what you mean by “computer bettors,” but there is account wagering in both countries.

      The Hong Kong Jockey Club has experimented with rebates. Bill Nader touched on the subject in this interview: http://www.paulickreport.com/features/the-breeders-cup-forum/the-breeders-cup-forum-hong-kong-jockey-club/

    • Jack

      HKJC have rebates on losing tickets of 10K HKD or more (about $1,700)…I think you get a 10% rebate.   Yes, the computer bettors are there.  That is where they originated.    It would be a big mistake for the HKJC  to open their market to US operators because those computer bettors who are betting hundreds of millions per year through the HKJC will go to rebate shops, where they can get 8 figure rebates.  

  • Gallop

    What is the HKJC and the JRA policy on computer bettors? (Allowed I assume?)
    Do they also rebate for high volume, or do they even use incentive schemes?
    Just curious.

  • RayPaulick

    Not sure what you mean by “computer bettors,” but there is account wagering in both countries.

    The Hong Kong Jockey Club has experimented with rebates. Bill Nader touched on the subject in this interview: http://www.paulickreport.com/f

  • Gallop

    …directly tied to the tote, algorithmic, math whiz kid staffed, auto picking, auto wagering, pool optimizing, $2 bettor squeezing…. you know…
     The “Mathematicians”. The global rebate outfits. The guys with positive ROIs and the largest bankrolls (investments).
    Are there Asian equivalents? Are they bigger? 

    http://www.paulickreport.com/n

  • Gallop

    Old article. Not sure what’s changed. And can’t find info on JRA.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/arc

  • Jack

    HKJC have rebates on losing tickets of 10K HKD or more (about $1,700)…I think you get a 10% rebate.   Yes, the computer bettors are there.  That is where they originated.    It would be a big mistake for the HKJC  to open their market to US operators because those computer bettors who are betting hundreds of millions per year through the HKJC will go to rebate shops, where they can get 8 figure rebates.  

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