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PRESS RELEASE

(Source : Government Information Centre)

LCQ 15: Football betting

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Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Cheng and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, in the Legislative Council today (October 8):

Question:

Regarding betting on football match conducted by the licensed football betting conductor, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the total amount of football bets received by the conductor since it started to accept such bets;

(b) of the total amount of provisional payments the conductor has paid to the Government so far;

(c) whether the conductor has placed hedging bets with authorized overseas bookmakers since it started to accept football bets; if so, of the amount of hedging bets placed on each occasion;

(d) of the respective numbers of operations carried out by the Police against illegal football betting activities between August and September in 2002 and the corresponding period in 2003;

(e) of the total number of persons who have received treatment for pathological gambling behaviour since the conductor started to accept football bets; and

(f) whether it will consider discussing with the conductor the possibility of allocating additional resources and setting up more counselling centres to help pathological gamblers in Hong Kong?

Reply:

Madam President,

My reply to the questions is as follows:

(a) Home Affairs Bureau has approached the HKJC Football Betting Limited - the licensee for authorized football betting, for information on the total amount of football bets it has received since the commencement of its licence on July 18, 2003. According to the licensee, betting turnover figures are commercially sensitive and their disclosure might undermine its competitiveness. The licensee nevertheless plans to make public full-year turnover figures after they have been audited at the end of the first year of operation.

(b) Under the Betting Duty Ordinance, betting duty on authorized football betting is charged on a yearly basis while provisional payments are to be made on a cumulative monthly basis. The amount of betting duty that the licensee is liable to pay in respect of a charging period can only be ascertained towards the end of the period following adjustments to the total provisional payments paid. The amount of provisional payments paid by the licensee in the middle of a charging period could not reflect its operational condition, and may be misleading and commercially sensitive. We therefore consider it more appropriate to disclose the actual amount of betting duty received after it has been ascertained at the end of the charging period.

(c) We understand that the licensee has placed hedging bets with overseas legal bookmakers since it started to accept football bets. We agree with the licensee that figures relating to individual hedging transactions are commercially sensitive, and their disclosure might pose difficulty for the licensee to place hedging bets with other bookmakers in the future. We therefore do not consider it appropriate to disclose such information.

(d) The Police conducted five raids against illegal football gambling during the period from August to September in 2002, while three raids were conducted in August 2003. The information for the month of September 2003 is not yet available.

(e) The Government set up The Ping Wo Fund in September 2003 to finance preventive and remedial measures for addressing gambling-related problems. They include the establishment of two pilot dedicated counselling and treatment centres for problem and pathological gamblers. The two centres would commence operation in mid-October. As the two centres have yet to start operation, we have no statistics on the number of problem and pathological gamblers who have received counselling and treatment since the licensee started to accept bets on football matches.

(f) We plan to commission an independent organization to monitor and review the demand for, and effectiveness of, the services to be provided by the two pilot dedicated counselling and treatment centres, shortly after they have come into operation. Subject to the outcome of this review, we would consider whether there is a need to provide more counselling and treatment services for problem and pathological gamblers in Hong Kong, and if so, how best to address the demand.

End/Wednesday, October 8, 2003

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