History of Gambling in Hong Kong

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, June 13, 2024

History of Gambling in Hong Kong

While tourists may find a fascinating gambling scene in Hong Kong, the laws are quite uptight. Casino entertainment surrounded by limelights and advanced technology masks the reality of strict regulations that only leave room for select operators to run a business. And even then, local and foreign operators are not prohibited from offering services to residents in Hong Kong. While the laws may seem confusing at first glance, understanding the history of gambling in the region helps paint a clear picture of exactly how and why the industry is functioning the way it is today.

Since Hong Kong is located in China, it’s important to note that gambling in the country was illegal since 1949, when the Communist Party came to power in 1949. Along with a plethora of harsh regulations, residents were forbidden to participate in any type of gambling activity, and citizens were not allowed to run any related businesses outside of the country either. The government was unwilling to give residents opportunities to gamble in any nearby regions, and permitting its people to open casinos “next door” would undermine their authority. Failure to comply resulted in lengthy sentences and massive fines for both participants and illegal operators. Even until this day, Hong Kong players could face up to 9 months of jail time, while operators can be locked up for as long as seven years for rebelling against the law.

Clearly, the laws have changed over time since there is now a multitude of legal gambling establishments in Hong Kong. Everything changed in 1977 when The Gambling Ordinance was enacted, regulating gambling in Hong Kong. Since then, gambling for leisure and entertainment was permitted as long as it was in accordance with the newly-established regulations. However, social gambling is still prohibited to this day.

Now rewind to 1884, when a non-profit structure called The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) was established. For years the organization has donated money to community needs and assisted in tax payments. Even now, 80% of its funds are being distributed for suchlike causes. The reason HKJC plays a big part in the history of gambling is that the year Hong Kong passed the gambling ordinance, the organization became an official gambling establishment, which authorized it to directly operate three types forms of legal gambling activities in the region: Horse race wagering, Football/Soccer betting, and Mark Six Lottery tickets. However, Mahjong (a game of skill, strategy, and luck) was excluded from the list of privileges.

In simple words, HKJC operates all types of gambling except for Mahjong, which is still legal due to an exemption that allows Mahjong schools to conduct this particular genre of betting in licensed facilities. But of course, they are not “schools.” The reason for the name is the authorization limits that restricted gambling businesses from acquiring a license. But since school is not technically a “business,” it flew well under the radar since 1956. This gave the two operators an opportunity to make a big buck, and players were finally allowed to enjoy casino entertainment without sneaking around. Unfortunately, slot machines, blackjack, and poker are still off the table.

Online gambling also has harsh restrictions in Hong Kong, allowing wagers on racing clubs, Sportsbooks, and monopolies operated by HKJC alone. Offshore casino sites are also strictly prohibited. Considering the tight regulations, citizens who want a more comprehensive range of gambling entertainment travel to Macau, the world’s gambling capital. And while Hong Kong is missing out on money opportunities online gambling could bring, the government is adamant about eliminating the potential dangers that “too much freedom” can bring.

The amount of illegal gambling in Hong Kong has led to overwhelming numbers of problem addictions followed by crime, debt, and social harm. During the pandemic, this issue grew astronomically, which leaves the government with no choice but to carry on with restrictions and endless persecution of illegal operators. Since most cannot obtain a license to offer lawful casino operations, many run illegal betting sites and conduct underground gambling games. Players unhappy with the game selection offered by legal operators are quick to register on offshore sites and participate in unregulated casino activities that prompt disproportions in the economy as a result.

Not only is it dangerous to register on offshore sites that potentially operate without a license, but it can also result in penalties for Hong Kong citizens. But while it’s impossible to stop players from illegal online gambling, there is a way to guide them to offshore casinos that treat overseas casino lovers with fairness. Websites like Casinority offer guides and reviews that prevent gamblers from getting scammed and ripped off by shady operators, not just in Hong Kong - but all around the world. Illegal gambling is not advised. But if it’s done despite set regulations, it is best to be mindful when selecting a platform. Find the best online casinos in Hong Kong (alternative Chinese page: 網上賭場香港) with the help of casinority experts!

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