The venerable Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) had a record fiscal year for the 12 months ending June 30, and their lucky streak seems to have carried forward. A strange occurrence during one of Sunday’s races enriched both the HKJC and an assortment of punters, while resulting in a punishing HK$30m (US $3.8m) loss for a single punter and/or syndicate of punters. Making matters even more interesting, even the HKJC themselves aren’t quite sure what happened.
On Sunday, a flood of wagers came in on the tierce pool of Race 9 at Sha Tin. In all, HK$30m was placed on the same combination of three horses to finish first, second and third. None of the nags were considered favorites and the payout would have been a supremely modest HK$11 for each HK$10 wagered. The total tierce pool had been only HK$7m prior to this influx. An unidentified betting official told the Hong Kong Standard that “no one bets HK$30m on a HK$7m pool. It makes no sense.”
A total of 1,276 wagers successfully picked the three actual winners. Had that late flood of money not poured in, each winning unit would have paid out HK$3k. Instead, each unit was now worth HK$21,786 (US $2.8k). The windfall also boosted the HKJC’s commission for the day from HK$1.75m to over HK$9m. And since the HKJC is the single biggest contributor to the city’s tax coffers, Hong Kong was also a big winner on the day.
HKJC CEO Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges said there was “no suspicion of any illegal activities” such as attempted money laundering and that all the accounts from which the bets originated were ‘clean.’ The CEO suggested that a computerized betting system belonging to a wealthy punter or betting syndicate might have gone rogue. Time to upgrade that software from Windows95, guys…