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Betting in Hong Kong

Published on: 01/02/2016

In 1842, the United Kingdom took control of Hong Kong from China as part of the treaty of Nanking. Until this point in time, the island had been an assortment of fishing villages. Following this, the Kowloon Peninsula was incorporated into the UK colony and in 1898, the whole area known as the New Territories - from Kowloon in the north to the Shenzhen River, including several hundred islands - were assigned to British rule under a 99 year lease. British rule over Hong Kong came to an end in 1997. Up until then, the only permitted wagering was on horse racing. Citizens could place bets at the Hong Kong Jockey Club which opened in 1884. The location used to create the race track had previously been a swamp. On completion, the racecourse was named Happy Valley.

The racecourse at Happy Valley had been in constant use apart from a short duration during World War 2. The Hong Kong Jockey Club was so successful it was able to donate money towards rebuilding after the war had ended. In fact, the organisation gave all of its surplus profits to charity and community needs, making the club even more popular.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club shed its amateur status and became a professional company in the early seventies. Nearly a decade down the line a new race track was created in the New Territories. Meanwhile, unlawful sportsbooks became more prolific which spurred the Colonial government to permit gambling venues away from the race track for the first time. Following this, football betting and the Mark Six Lottery has been made available in an effort to stifle illegal betting.

During colonial rule, the citizens of Hong Kong had to catch a ferry to Macau in order to enjoy playing table-based casino games. Under British law at the time, all types of casino games were illegal. However, punters still frequented smaller betting venues to wager on the traditional Chinese style games such as Sic Bo and Mah-jong.

When the Nanking Treaty ended, the area became part of the Peoples Republic of China and adopted a “One Country, Two Systems” policy. As a result, nearly all types of betting were still prohibited with the exception of those organised by The Hong Kong Jockey Club. In addition, the Golden Princess Cruise liner was given permission to offer on-board casino facilities.

The Hong Kong Poker House is another establishment where punters can legally enjoy playing a variety of Poker card games, as the activity is regarded as a game of skill not chance.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club is the one gambling organisation legally allowed to offer internet betting services, which include horse racing, football and lotteries. Throughout the country, bookies based abroad are completely banned from trading in any of the regions. However, these limitations have not deterred almost 500 sportsbooks from welcoming Hong Kong’s citizens from wagering on their gambling web sites. In fact, approximately 80% of the nation’s people enjoy betting at least once per annum either via the internet, in mah-jong gambling dens venues or at the race track.

The Chinese authorities have attempted to prevent its citizens from gambling online via foreign sportsbooks, but their efforts have so far been in vain. The measures taken to stop money transfers with the use of local banks and credit cards have also failed. Popular ways of making monetary transactions include eWallet systems offered by Moneybookers, NETeller and Click2Play. The currencies used are the British Pound, the Euro or the US Dollar.