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Britain's Betting Fever Pale Compared to Hong Kong's

12 October 2004

UNITED KINGDOM – As reported by the UK Guardian Unlimited: "'Britain in grip of betting fever' screamed the front-page tabloid headline last week in the wake of publication of a weighty report from the Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, who collate gambling figures from around the world.

"…Perhaps the Lottery is to blame for the huge increase in punting. I certainly don't think that Britain has become a nation of lunatic gamblers. For properly crazy gamblers, the Hong Kong Chinese take some beating. In 2002-03, they gambled £5billion (US$8.9 billion) on the 700 races at Hong Kong's two racecourses, yet the authorities there were worried that turnover was down. At £7million (US$12.7 million) per race, that is about £1 for each resident of the former colony per race. In 2005, there will be about 9,000 horseraces run in this country (population 60m). If we gambled as they do in Hong Kong, at £1 per person per race, that would make betting turnover on horseracing alone here well over £500billion (US$ 894.9 billion).

"That sort of figure would be beyond the wildest dreams of the British Horseracing Board, whose chief executive, Greg Nichols, has plans for British racing 'from 10 in the morning to 10 at night 363 days a year' in the not too distant future.

"…Any tampering with the racing programme is unlikely to match the huge impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, glorified fruit machines introduced to high street betting shops. They enable punters to enter a miniature casino with electronic card games and roulette. For bookmakers in Britain's 8,800 shops, the FOBT has become the goose that lays the golden egg. For some reason their punters love shovelling their cash into them and the figures are staggering - if not quite as staggering as those from the Hong Kong Jockey Club…"

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