Sunday July 31,2011 : Bureaucratic ban seriously hammers Jockey Club betting
Jockey Club of Hong Kong football punters were seriously irritated this week when the regional government's Home Affairs Bureau slapped a ban on betting on an international clash between two English Premier League teams visiting the city, ruling that because the match was part of a tournament in which a local team was playing, betting was prohibited.
The bureaucratic ban on the clash between Chelsea and Aston Villa (the former won 2 – 0) spoiled a holiday in France being enjoyed by Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, reported the South China Morning Post.
Engelbrecht-Bresges observed: "The world, from Churchtown to London, is betting on it. I understand from my colleagues that more than 130 overseas bookies, including most major offshore and online bookmakers in this region, opened betting pools, but not the Jockey Club… and the game is being played in a stadium we built!"
He said the club had applied to the Home Affairs Bureau last week to open local betting pools for the final between the two Premier League teams.
"Clearly, neither of the two reasons why we cannot normally offer betting on matches involving Hong Kong teams – namely integrity concerns and insufficient public interest – are applicable,” said the dismayed Hockey Club chief.
"However, regrettably and to my great disappointment, the Jockey Club was asked to seek special approval from the bureau for taking bets on the match between Chelsea and Aston Villa. To me, it is a way of creating a change in the licensing conditions by restricting football betting to the entire tournament instead of the individual matches which a Hong Kong team will participate in."
A government spokesman said no betting was allowed without government approval for matches involving a Hong Kong team and that ‘matches' meant the whole tournament.
Engelbrecht-Bresges responded: "If one would apply this logic every time a Hong Kong team plays in a tournament … it would mean we could not even bet on the World Cup as a Hong Kong team [played] in the qualifying matches."