Legislative Council Approve New HK$12bn Football Betting Tax Levy

June 23, 2023 | Tax
  • Hong Kong lawmakers pass bill ordering Jockey Club to pay HK$12bn in football betting tax to boost gov’t revenue
  • Legislators approved the new levy despite earlier objections from the Jockey Club, which said it would benefit illegal bookies.
HONG KONG (June 22, 2023) — According to a local media outlet, the Legislative Council has passed a bill ordering the Hong Kong Jockey Club to pay an extra HK$12 billion in tax on its football betting earnings over the next five years to swell government coffers, despite earlier objections from the club.

The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said in a statement the club would not reduce its commitment to local charities as a result of the new levy of HK$2.4 billion a year.

“In proposing to levy the SFBD (Special Football Betting Duty), we have taken into consideration a number of factors, including the affordability of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC)… and the external competition faced by the local football betting business.”

According to an earlier statement from the club, the HKJC Charities Trust donated HK$6.6 billion in 2021-22, HK1.4 billion of which was designated for pandemic control. The club has a monopoly on betting in the city, with the proceeds going to charity.

“Due consideration”

The proposal for the new tax was introduced into the legislature this February as Financial Secretary Paul Chan delivered his Budget for 2023-24. He said the government had given “due consideration” to the competition faced by the club.

Shortly after Chan’s budget address, the club urged authorities not to impose any increases in betting duty, saying its horse-racing duty rates were already among the “highest in the world,” at 72 to 75 per cent.

It said the move would create “structural problems irreversibly damaging the Club’s successful integrated business model and continued competitiveness,” while benefiting illegal betting operators.

Limited options

The head of the New People’s Party Regina Ip said HK$2.4 billion was “nothing” in comparison to the Jockey Club’s investment return of HK$10.9 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year. There were not many areas where the government could raise taxes, she told the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, chairman of the Liberal Party — himself an honorary voting member of the Jockey Club — said other sports, including basketball, could also be subject to betting duty.

Vincent Cheng of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the move was considered due to “exceptional circumstances,” and acknowledged the club’s charitable contributions and its role in promoting sports and culture.

Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) has contacted the Jockey Club for comment.

SOURCE: Hong Kong Free Press.

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