Hong Kong Gambling
Hong Kong Gambling Information
Hong Kong allows racetrack gambling and casino cruises at present, though the local government does not allow brick-and-mortar casino gambling. Local officials have considered laws which would allow casinos to be built, but have so far chosen not to enter into direct competition with the casino industry of nearby Macau.
This may change in the future, as Hong Kong sees more Chinese and foreign tourists flocking to Macau, which is a similar Chinese "special administrative district".
Special Administrative District of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a special administrative district of China. Hong Kong was a part of the British Empire until 1997. In that year, the original lease on Hong Kong ran out. The rather one-sided lease was an arrangement between the British and the imperial Chinese government, a 99-year lease drawn up in 1898. The British had occupied Hong Kong since 1841, though, so their presence was a 150 year commitment.
The British had the right to extend the lease, but chose to negotiate an end to their time in Hong Kong in 1997. Because of this bit of leverage and the strong economy of Hong Kong, the Chinese government compromised on a "one country, two systems" style of government in Hong Kong. This means that China handles defense and foreign policy, while leaving the police, courts and economics to the people of Hong Kong.
The treaty stipulates this system will last until at least 2047, fifty years after the treaty is signed.
How Hong Kong will be governed after 2047 remains a question, though many citizens of Hong Kong and westerners hope the Chinese government will have liberalized by that point, or at least see the advantages in maintaining a western-style democratic enclave in China. Some commentators suggest that Chinese influence has already begun to permeate Hong Kong, though this is a matter of debate at present.
Hong Kong Casino Rejection
The Hong Kong Legislative Council rejected a plan in 2006 to build a Hong Kong casino. The plan called for a casino build on Lantau Island, which would have circumvented the need for new service taxes and goods taxes, as well as created new jobs for residents of Hong Kong.
The council summarily rejected the casino motion, stating they did not want to encourage gambling addiction or other pathological effects for gamblers. One councilman cited a study by the University of Chicago claiming to link casinos with increase of pathological gambling in an area. This ruling came in 2005 and 2006.
Another motion in 2007 was rejected on different grounds. This time, opponents of casino gambling said they did not want to cut off the "economic lifeblood" of Macau, an island near to the New Territories district of Hong Kong. Since Macau began opening casinos in recent years, including the world-record Venetian Casino, Hong Kong has been losing tourists to Macau.
Horse Racing in Hong Kong
Horseracing is a legacy left by the departing British Empire. In many former colonies of the empire, horse racing, cricket and football are favorite pasttimes. While casinos are not allowed in Hong Kong, pari-mutuel wagering continues to flourish.
Horsetracks in Hong Kong
Happy Valley Racecourse (Happy Valley, Hong Kong) - The Happy Valley Race Course is a racing book open on race days from noon until close. The phone numbers for Happy Valley horsetrack are +852 289 515 23 or +852 296 681 11, or you can visit their web address at www.happyvalleyracecourse.com.
Sha Tin Racecourse (Sha Tin, Hong Kong) - The Sha Tin horse track is a race book featuring thoroughbred racing. To get general information about Sha Tin Racing, call +852 269 562 23 or visit the website at www.shatineracetrack.com.
Cruise Ship Casinos in Hong Kong
While land casinos are illegal at present in Hong Kong, visitors to Hong Kong can enjoy one casino in town. This is the casino cruise ship known as the Golden Princess, which sails out of Wanchai on Hennessy Road in Hong Kong.
Golden Princess Cruise Ship
The Golden Princess has a small casino floor meant to cater to Hong Kong tourists. To call Golden Prince Cruises at Emperor Group Center, dial +852 283 566 88 or fax +852 289 387 07.
Lottery in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a not-for-profit organization based in Hong Kong. The HKJC holds the Mark Six Lottery, which benefits local community projects and lotteries in Hong Kong. Wagers which can be made through the jockey club include horse racing, all kinds of international football matches and standard lottery games, including Mark Six Draw and Mark 6 Snowball Draw games.
The HKJC claims to be the single largest tax payer in Hong Kong, accounting for over 8% of all taxes collected in Hong Kong in the years 2006/2007. This amounts to over $12.6 billion per year. The Hong Kong Jockey Club claims to donate an average of a billion dollars per year to charity and community causes, and compares itself to the vaunted America-based Rockefeller Foundation.
The Betex Group is a U.K. lottery provider which also has an office in Hong Kong. Betex is more involved with lottery planning for mainland China and has offices in Beijing, too.
Sports Betting in Hong Kong
As mentioned in the lottery section, the Hong Kong Jockey Club takes sports bets on football matches. These include English Premier League, as well as the German, Japanese, United States, Swedish and Norwegian leagues, to name a few.
Online Gambling in Hong Kong
Casino Treasure, a Canada-based online casino, is known to take players from Hong Kong and China. It has two different URLs which cater to Chinese-speakers. Casino Treasure is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Council.
Mapau Casino also takes Chinese bets, with two URLs specifically designed for Hong Kong. These are www.hongkongbets.com and www.hongkongbetting.com. Interestingly, Mapau Casino only supports three language: English, German and French. Mapau Casino is owned by the Sunny Group, which is located in Trinidad and Tobago.
Once again, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is the chief provider of online gambling for citizens of Hong Kong. The website is www.hkjc.com and the site supports both Chinese and English languages. It might seem strange that one company holds a place in so many parts of local gambling, but as has been stated, the HKJC is the biggest moneymaker in Hong Kong. The organization has been involved in civic projects since 1915.
Sports betting reached new heights in Hong Kong during the 2006 World Cup. For the first time since the Asian financial crisis of the late-nineties, the Hong Kong budget ran a surplus, mainly due to extra revenues from gambling. Though it is illegal for anyone under 18 to bet, it is thought many underage children engaged in World Cup betting.
Watsons Athletic Club claims that 10% of Hong Kong children between 9 and 12 bet on the 2006 World Cup.
The sports betting craze even reached Hong Kong penal institutions. Hong Kong officials stepped up nighttime raids in their jails, trying to stamp out a trend of inmates to bet on World Cup matches. 19 inmates were disciplined for these activities.
Meanwhile, horse racing seems to be suffering a dip in its popularity. While horsebetting still brings in billions of dollars a year, the total amount of money wagered on horse races has slipped for around ten years, as bets on other forms of sports have increased.
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