Hong Kong Jockey Club Betting Disabled for Red Tape

Punters get irritated

It has been reported this week that punters in Hong Kong got really irritated when Jockey Club of Hong Kong was forbidden by the regional government's Home Affairs Bureau to take bets on an international match between two English Premier League teams, Chelsea and Aston Villa, visiting the city. Such a ruling was explained by the fact that the match was part of a tournament in which a local team was playing.

On this occasion, Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges stated: "The world, from Churchtown to London, is betting on it. I understand from my colleagues that more than 130 overseas bookies, including most major offshore and online bookmakers in this region, opened betting pools, but not the Jockey Club... and the game is being played in a stadium we built!

'The club had applied to the Home Affairs Bureau last week to open local betting pools for the final between the two Premier League teams.

"Clearly, neither of the two reasons why we cannot normally offer betting on matches involving Hong Kong teams - namely integrity concerns and insufficient public interest - are applicable.

"However, regrettably and to my great disappointment, the Jockey Club was asked to seek special approval from the bureau for taking bets on the match between Chelsea and Aston Villa. To me, it is a way of creating a change in the licensing conditions by restricting football betting to the entire tournament instead of the individual matches which a Hong Kong team will participate in."

And even though a government spokesman explained that no betting is allowed without government approval for matches involving a Hong Kong team ('matches' meaning the whole tournament), Engelbrecht-Bresges opined: "If one would apply this logic every time a Hong Kong team plays in a tournament ... it would mean we could not even bet on the World Cup as a Hong Kong team [played] in the qualifying matches."

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