Hong Kong Jockey Club
Horseracing is by far one of the most popular spectator sports in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club is the only authorised horseracing operator in the country and as such, it is one of the largest racing organisations in the world. In fact, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is so large that it is also listed as the largest single taxpayer in the country – paying roughly HK$ 12.405 billion in the 2005/06 tax year, making up a staggering 8.6% of the all taxes collected.
Hong Kong’s horseracing legacy started in about 1841 when the British arrived in the country. It wasn’t long before the British set about draining a swamp in order to form a racetrack at Happy Valley. The track has been in use ever since – although it did suffer a bit during the Second World War. The Hong Kong Jockey Club was founded in 1884 and it wasn’t long before it went from being an amateur operation to a professional organization. In 1978, the country’s second racecourse was opened at Sha Tin. Unfortunately, along with the growth of the sport there was an increase in illegal bookmaking. In order to fight the problem, the government adopted a direct approach and the Club was authorised to operate off-course betting branches. The program was so successful that the Club has since been authorised to cover the Mark Six lottery and regulated football betting.
Today the Club is one of largest employers in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club currently employs approximately 4,400 full-time employees and 20,000 part time workers. In doing so, the Club makes a significant contribution to the local economy. Another outstanding feature of the Club is that is run on a not-for-profit business model. According to this model, all surplus goes to charity and so the organisation has already been able to donate some one billion Hong Kong dollars to more than a hundred different charities and community projects. Because of this, the Club has become recognised as being one of the biggest charity donors in the world.