Founded in 1884 as an amateur racing body, its status changed to professional in 1971.
The HKJC conducts nearly 700 horse races per year at its two race tracks at Sha Tin and Happy Valley. During the 2001/02 racing season, the HKJC licensed approximately 1,144 horse owners, 24 trainers and 35 jockeys and had 1,435 horses in training.
In 2002-2003, the betting turnover was HKD 71 billion (approximately USD 9 billion). After paying dividends of 58 billion and betting duty of 9.5 billion, it betting commission revenue was HKD 3.9 billion (approximately USD 0.5 billion). It contributes 11.7% of Hong Kong's tax revenue. Surpluses from its operation are allocated to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust which serves as the administrator for the club's charitable donations. The trust serves four principal areas of civic and social need: sports, recreation and culture, education and training, community services and medical and health.
The HKJC was instrumental in persuading the Hong Kong government to pass the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2002 to combat unauthorized cross-border gambling and the related promotional activities in Hong Kong, making it a criminal offence for any person in Hong Kong to bet with an unauthorized bookmaker, even when the bets are received outside Hong Kong. The offence applies to all visitors as well as to residents of Hong Kong.