Edited press release
John Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club reviewed the organization’s highlights of the 2007-2008 season at its annual general meeting Sept. 4.
Chan said it had been a very special year for the HKJC with considerable effort and resources being devoted towards the staging of the Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong.
Total group turnover comfortably set new records, growing by 7.7% to HK$108.5 billion, while the club's contribution to the public purse through tax and duty payments increased to HK$13.2 billion, the highest in 10 years.
The club also committed more than HK$1.05 billion to charitable and community projects through The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and contributed a further HK$957 million to the Lotteries Fund. The club's total contribution to the community thus amounted to more than HK$15 billion.
It was especially encouraging, Chan noted, to see the club's core racing product show a continued upward trend, with betting turnover increasing by 5.8% to HK$67.7 billion. This was the first time for more than a decade that turnover growth had been achieved in two consecutive years.
Hong Kong horses had also continued to make their mark on the global stage, with three locally-trained horses now ranked in the world's top seven.
Chan also pointed out the challenges Hong Kong is facing in the leisure and tourism markets from elsewhere in the region. The challenge extended far beyond Macau, as many other countries and regions in Asia were exploring or taking active steps to establish casino resorts.
“This is not just competition among gaming operators and products, it is competition among governments and tax authorities in Asia to win a share of this growing revenue pie,” said Chan. “While other players are surging ahead, Hong Kong is getting left behind in this race.
"When we ask the Government for greater flexibility to compete in this growing, globalized market, we are trying to ensure that Hong Kong as a whole can protect its important gaming revenues for the use and benefit of our community.
"Indeed, given our world-class racing products and acknowledged expertise in this market, we can help Hong Kong attract more offshore inflows if a more suitable taxation framework can be put in place. The rest of the world is moving fast and Hong Kong simply cannot afford to stand still. We hope that our policy makers can work together with the club to generate more revenue for our community."
In other business, voting members of the HKJC elected one new steward and re-elected five other stewards to the board.
The new steward is Dr. Rita Fan Hsu Lai Tai, president of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong SAR. Fan was elected to serve the remaining two-year term of Robert Kwok, who has retired.
Retiring stewards Chan, Brian Stevenson, Simon Ip, and Lester Kwok were re-elected to serve further terms of three years each. In addition, Iain Bruce, who was co-opted to join the board in March to fill the vacancy left by David Eldon, was elected to serve the remaining one year of Eldon's three-year term.
Following the meeting, the new board of stewards re-elected Chan as chairman and Stevenson as deputy chairman for 2008-2009.