|The Hong Kong government has passed a bill legalizing soccer betting, the bill squeaking through on a 30-24 vote. That spells bad news for illegal bookmakers and good news for the government’s coffers through the tax revenue it will bring in.|
The government pushed the bill through after gaining support from independent legislators.
Religious groups and sections of the government had protested against the bill, saying it would fuel gambling addiction and encourage the youth of Hong Kong to bet on soccer.
The government however said it was not encouraging gambling – merely, as Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho said, giving Hong Kong’s gamblers a legal alternative.
The government estimates that punters bet over US$10 billion a year on soccer with small-time illegal bookies. Analysts are predicting a government rake of at least HK$5 billion ($0.64 billion) a year from legal betting.
Macau, mainland China and Singapore are the other Asian jurisdictions where football betting is legal.