The new chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Philip Chen has suggested that consideration should be given to expanding the number of sports upon which the HKJC can accept bets.

Mr Chen became chairman of the HKJC in June 2020, during what has been a difficult year for all betting operators because of the cancellation of many sporting events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his first chairman’s statement Mr Chen wrote of the “onslaught from illegal gambling” and of operators offering “betting on many sports for which there is currently no legal and regulated channel [in Hong Kong]”.

He looked back to when football betting was causing similar issues and how the government’s move to regulate football betting helped the HKJC combat illegal operators and generate more tax revenues.

He writes, “I would argue that Hong Kong is facing a similar situation with respect to other sports and it is timely to consider expanding regulated betting to them”.

The argument comes as the betting duty and profits tax paid by the HKJC fell to the lowest level since 2014 and was 15% lower than last year. Horseracing has continued in Hong Kong during the lockdown measures and betting turnover held up well. But the closure of international football leagues meant that betting turnover on football was reduced by almost 20% on the previous record-high year.

The Jockey Club is an important source of duty, tax and charitable donations in Hong Kong. Proposing the expansion of betting regulation to cover more sports against the backdrop of falling revenues could mean the argument finds a more receptive hearing within government.