Hong Kong’s Minister Gives Prudent Consideration to Betting Tax Increase

The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui Ching-yu, stated that the proposal to increase Hong Kong’s betting duty for more government revenue would be given careful consideration. He explained that the government would explore various measures to ensure fiscal sustainability, which may include a “tax rate adjustment.”

However, Hui emphasized that the government would maintain a low tax rate as far as possible and ensure that any increase would not harm people’s livelihoods. The proposal to increase the betting duty was suggested by the New People’s Party for the 2023-24 budget, with the aim of raising revenue due to the Covid-related economic slump.

The party proposed increasing football betting duty from 50% to 80%, which was met with criticism from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who warned that it could lead to irreversible damage and illegal or offshore gambling.

Last month, the Jockey Club argued that the proposed increase in betting duty by the political party would result in a significant reduction in its operating revenue from HK$15 billion to HK$9 billion, despite the potential HK$25 billion to HK$31 billion in taxation from the club.

The organization warned that this would result in a deficit and hinder its ability to make investments and charitable donations. Lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen also expressed concerns about the impact of the increase on the club’s ability to fund charitable causes. The government policy in Hong Kong is not to encourage gambling, but the Jockey Club is the only licensed betting operator and pays a betting duty.

Currently, duties on betting are charged on net stake receipts for horse races and football matches and 25% for lotteries. The Jockey Club declined to comment on the proposed increase in betting duty. The government will weigh all factors and evaluate the effects of any changes on people’s livelihoods.

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