Coach unsure new anti-touting measures will work

A basketball coach on Thursday questioned the effectiveness of the government’s latest measures against sport venue touting, saying they don’t get to the root of the problem.

From May 16, people can make bookings online 15 minutes earlier than those queuing up at service counters.

Officials are also barring organisations from changing the names under which bookings are made.

However, coach Lau Ka-ho said he thinks groups who profit from making bookings can simply use automated software, or bots, to snap up places via the internet.

“The biggest problem is whether the general public can log in to the system when booking opens. People who have tried to make bookings will know, it’s basically impossible to log in, may be you can after 15 to 30 minutes, when all the courts are already gone,” he said on an RTHK programme.

Lau added that the “speculation gangs” charge around HK$1,200 to HK$1,400 for two hours’ use of indoor basketball courts, when the government charges about HK$300.

Part of the “extra cost” for the gangs, he said, is having the person who made the booking stationed at the venue throughout its usage.

DAB lawmaker Vincent Cheng, meanwhile, welcomed the government’s measures, although he noted it remains to be seen whether they will work.

If they don’t, he said the government should increase the penalty for profiteering in the booking of recreation and sports venues.