The Hong Kong Jockey Club has announced that it will shut down its off-track betting venues on July 18 until at least early August. The move is designed to help deter the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the special administrative region.
HKJC Announces Shut-down of Betting Shops Until August
Hong Kong’s novel coronavirus recent spike has prompted the government to shut down off-course betting shops and tighten restrictions throughout the city. According to the newly issued ban, betting shops will remain closed until at least August.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has confirmed that 100 off-course betting branches or OCBB will shut down on Sunday, July 19, and then restart operation in early August. These measures are subject to extension and change depending on how the pandemic evolves.
All betting kiosks will still service punters on July 17 and July 18, HKJC confirmed, and offer deposits and withdrawals, cashing-in of vouchers, and any winning ticket. However, football has been suspended as a viable betting option.
According to the HKJC, these measures have been necessary for the response to the worsening public health situation in Hong Kong and trying to balance the health risks for customers and staff with the economic importance of betting operations.
Hong Kong Posts Third Best Horse Racing Season on Record
The news comes two days after the Hong Kong racing season ended on July 15 with the Happy Valley event bringing in a record amount worth $206.4 million on a single event. As per the current timeline, Hong Kong will not restart its 2020/21 racing season until at least September 5.
That is the second time the OCBBs have had to close. Previously, they stayed shuttered for nearly five months when they closed in February and reopened against on June 22. Since that time, punters have been welcome to place their bets on horse races and cash out any winnings they have gathered.
Customers have had access to all other features, including their accounts, reactivating old accounts, and managing money. One notable feature that was missed was the Mark Six Lottery, which didn’t restart on June 22.
While betting shops in Q2, 2020 had remained closed for most of the period, the HKJC reported its third most successful season on record in 2020, amassing the impressive HK$121.6 billion, or 2.6% decline year-over-year.
The numbers covered the season between September 1, 2019, and July 15, 2020. The novel coronavirus did throw a spanner in the works, cutting turnover from domestic customers by 8.3%.