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Offshore Bookies Unconcerned By HK Move To Legalize Soccer Betting

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

29 November 2002


Following Tuesday's announcement by the Hong Kong government that it intends to legalise soccer betting in order to collect more tax revenues and put overseas betting firms operating in the territory out of business, offshore bookies in the region have expressed little concern at the threat posed to their operations.

Speaking to the Hong Kong Standard this week, Stanley Ho, chairman of the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), stated that he did not believe that a wider variety of soccer pools would erode Macau's advantage. Currently, Macau, Singapore and Mainland China are the only countries in the Asian region where some form of football betting is allowed.

'I don't mind if there is more competition. We are not worrying about it,' Mr Ho told the SAR-based newspaper, explaining that: 'We are offering more betting combinations. We also offer different odds. When the match is proceeding, we still accept bets [from punters], but they [Hong Kong] cannot do so. They need to collect all their bets beforehand. Our attractiveness has been far higher.'

International bookmaker, William Hill also appears to share Mr Ho's optimism. Speaking to the Standard, a spokeswoman for the organisation observed:

'As Hong Kong is still a fairly new culture, I suppose it's wise to start slowly, but punters who want to place more spohisticated bets will turn to other legal online channels for more choices if betting is limited to win, lose, or draw.'

However, whatever the effect on the region's offshore betting industry, the additional tax collected as a result of the move will no doubt be very welcome, given the current state of Hong Kong's economy.

According to estimates, the legalisation of soccer betting will bring in more than HK$1 billion in extra revenue.


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