Horse racing never dies

April 20, 2022 14:56
Photo: The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Show me a business that stayed resilient in March, the toughest month so far this year.

Not even HKTV mall, a popular online shopping site that reported a decline in sales due to the logistics shut down during the lockdown.

But Hong Kong Jockey Club surprisingly stood out in this respect despite a near three-month closure.

Its retail outlets, like most other venues such as gym and cinema, would reopen on Thursday (21 April) but it would not directly sell horse racing nor Mark Six tickets possibly for another month, according to local papers.

Of course, one needs a vaccine pass and LeaveHomeSafe App to enter the off-course centre for cashing in their winning tickets, or depositing cash to renew their hopes of eventually winning.

That is good news for the horse racing lovers who religiously go to betting centres on Wednesday and Sunday. To them, horse racing is probably the city’s favorite pastime.

Nothing seems to stop people from gambling in this boring stay-at-home situation. Take a Wednesday Happy Valley racing night in mid-March, for example, the total bet that night was HK$1.38 billion, little changed from the same period last year.

Mind you, this was the period when the daily number of Covid-19 cases reached five-digit level and the core districts were dead with less than five people seen outside Sogo, Causeway Bay.

The resilient betting data was also consistent with the total betting revenue of HK$136 billion in the year 2020/21, up 12 per cent to four-year high despite a 70 per cent drop in attendance due to the social distancing measures.

Needless to say, more people shifted to online betting instead because some outlets were closed during the period.

That also proves the city’s myth that “horse racing and dancing will go on” is at least valid in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

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EJ Insight writer