HongKong's move to legalise soccer betting would net US$192m
Restaurants and pubs in Hong Kong expect up to a 30 per cent boost in business after soccer gambling is legalized in the territory, with restaurants in the new territories Sha Tin area for example charging fans about US$13 per head.

The Hong Kong government too stands to gain, as half of the US$384 million which punters are expected to spend, will go to its coffers. Soccer fans and punters are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of August 1st when soccer betting becomes legalized in the territory. And so is licensee The Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has spent nearly US$13 million to get its facilities ready.

It is not only the Hong Kong Jockey Club that has geared up for the coming football season, some restaurants and pubs have installed huge TV sets to attract soccer fans to come and watch the matches and to spend. And it expects business to grow by 30 per cent in the first year.

Wong Wai, Deputy General Manager, Hsin Kuang Restaurant, adds, 'We expect a good crowd. During each World Cup, customers make special bookings.' And in case underground bookies find their way to pubs and restaurants, the Jockey Club's considering placing self-vending betting terminals there to encourage punters to use them instead.

The procedure is simple and bets start as low as US$1.30. Just put in the account card and completed ticket into the machine and it is done. Or you can place a bet via the Internet or through SMS. Critics argue it is so easy that even youngsters under 18 know how to do it. But the Jockey Club says it will put in preventive measures.

Henry Chan, Executive Director of Betting, HK Jockey Club, said: 'At off-course betting branches, we'll seriously ban those below the age of 18 from entering. If they can't enter, they can't bet. Of course we hope there'll be concerted efforts from everyone else, not just us.' For the adults though, it is no-holds-barred; a way for the government to stop illegal bookmaking and bring in extra tax revenues at the same time.

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