Tax Rates, Regulations Called Key to Hong Kong Growth

The chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club said tax rates and regulations need to be reviewed for the racing entity to compete at a time of great change.

During the HKJC annual meeting Aug. 30, John C.C. Chan, chairman of the club, noted achievements during the 2006-2007 racing season in Hong Kong but said the business climate could be further improved by the addition of five racing days and an increase in the number of imported simulcasts. The government has declined to approve those measures.

“The world-class quality of our racing product, and the comparatively large size of our betting pools, give Hong Kong a substantial competitive edge in the international arena, so it will be a great shame if we cannot fully realize these opportunities,” Chan said during the meeting.

Additional tools would allow the HKJC to combat illegal wagering, which drains revenue that would go to the community, he said. “As the club is a not-for-profit organization, it can be a win-win situation for all parties--the government, the club, and the community at large,” Chan said.

Chan noted the HKJC during the 2006-2007 racing season reported a 6.6% increase in handle and 2% increase in attendance after a 10-year period of decline. He said tax reform approved by the Legislative Council in July, 2006 helped boost handle.

The HKJC, however, had to make up a shortfall of HK$119 million on the HK$8 billion guaranteed tax payment under the tax reform package. Chan said the financial commitment was predicated on more racing days and foreign simulcasts.

In other business at the meeting, Stephen Ip Shu Kwan was elected to the HKJC board of stewards. Robert C. Kwok, Dr. Donald K.T. Li, and Philip N.L. Chen were re-elected to three-year terms on the board.

The board of stewards re-elected Chan as chairman and David Eldon as deputy chairman for the 2007-2008 season.

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