07/17/2017 10:46AM

Hong Kong season ends with almost 11 percent handle increase

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Total betting during the 88-day Hong Kong racing season that ended Sunday was up 10.7 percent, in part because of a five-day increase in the number of race days, according to figures released by the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Sunday.

A surge of betting from foreign jurisdictions also contributed.

Total betting during the 2016-17 racing season was 117.5 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $15.28 billion, according to the HKJC, which administers all aspects of racing and betting in Hong Kong. Last year, total betting was 106.1 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $13.7 billion at the exchange rate at the time.

The strong increase reversed a 2 percent decline in wagering on Hong Kong races from the 2014-15 racing season to the next season.

For this past season, Hong Kong allowed more foreign jurisdictions to wager on its product and promoted it more heavily in jurisdictions where the races were already available. Total wagering from foreign jurisdictions jumped 87 percent, from $447 million during the 2015-16 season to $845 million this season, the organization said.

Although Hong Kong staged five more race days, the number of races increased by only 22. Comparing the number of races to last season, average handle jumped 6.9 percent.

The 2016-17 total handle for Hong Kong was 42 percent higher than the total bet on 37,614 U.S. races in 2016. Gambling on horse races has a far larger market penetration in Hong Kong and Japan than in any Western country.