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The Lottery in Hong Kong

Published on: 01/11/2013

Hong Kong has always been famous for its casinos. The island of Macau, like Las Vegas, is virtually a synonym for gambling. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s gaming houses were everywhere: in many streets there were more places to play roulette and cards than there were shops. Unfortunately the city lacked any kind of government regulation for these arenas, as there was no specific license available. The police had been complaining for years that many of these gaming houses were hotspots drug dealing, and other miscellaneous crimes.

Finally in 1977 steps were undertaken with the formation of Hong Kong’s Gambling Ordinance act. The bold move was made to make all forms of gambling illegal, other than those ratified by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC). This institution had been operational for many years, but had been limited in its power to curtail the criminal element endemic in the casinos and gaming houses. After the government gave official power to the HKJC, no bets of any kind could be made – be it on football matches or horse races – other than through their official channels. Along with this mass scale regulation the HKJC also issued a lottery called “Mark Six Lotto,” which was intended to raise funds for the government, as well as various philanthropic causes.

The year of 1997 was of course a major one for Hong Kong, as it reverted back to the Chinese rule – specifically as a “Special Administrative Region.” As might be expected this change had multifarious effects on many aspects of the former colony: much of its industry was affected, but somewhat surprisingly the role of the HKJC and its Mark Six Lotto were retained intact. In 2006 the HKJC was actually increased in power, when the Home Affairs Bureau underwent a degree of reorganization, specifically in its Betting and Lotteries Commission. This led to the HKJC becoming Hong Kong’s biggest taxpayer, and also its largest employer.

Nearly 40 years after its inception, the Mark Six Lotto is the most popular game on the island, with people saying it is the “fastest way to rewrite a person’s destiny.” With such common conviction as this there is little need for advertising, not that there is any need for self promotion, as HKJC is still the only company allowed to put out a lottery. The game is old fashioned in its structure, having a simple 6/49 layout. There are three draws a week, and the initial jackpot is an impressive HK$8 million (approximately £650,000). Even if the lottery had competitors, it would be hard to draw players away from such a high opening prize.

Ticket prices are set at HK$10, and participants select six numbers plus another “Bonus” number. For those who feel constantly blighted by bad luck, there is the option of having your numbers chosen for you by a computer. There is also a “Banker” mode, which allows you to create selections of three chosen numbers.

The Mark Six lotto has special holiday jackpots, which are sometimes known as Snowball draws. Typically taking place on such special days Christmas and new years day, they go under the titles Chinese New Year Snowball Draw, Easter Snowball Draw, and Christmas Snowball Draw. A portion of the draw fund from regular lottery days is saved up, to be added to the total funds for these special holiday jackpots – leading of course to huge prizes!

Published on: 01/11/2013 © Bet Bind