Hong Kong has some of the strongest anti-online gambling laws in the world. Operators of gambling sites face seven years in prison and fines of HK$5 million. Individual gamblers caught placing bets online face nine months imprisonment and a fine of HK$30,000.
The only form of legal online gambling in Hong Kong is administered by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC). The HKJC is a government-sponsored non-profit monopoly that was originally instituted to promote horse racing in Hong Kong. The HKJC now oversees parimutuel horse wagering, the lottery and betting on overseas football matches.
Actual Hong Kong betting sites are almost impossible to find due to harsh penalties for players and operators alike. There’s no point in risking gregarious fines and prison time in a country that takes gambling very seriously. If you’re interested in gambling in Hong Kong, your best bet would be to take a ferry over to Macau.
Best Hong Kong Betting Sites
Although residents of have few options for legal online betting in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong dollar is itself a popular currency. Several of the largest online betting sites accept HKD deposits and allow you to hold your account balance in HKD.
These sites also have both simplified and traditional Chinese language support. What these sites lack is betting in Hong Kong dollars. Every bet you place will be converted to USD or EUR and then converted back to HKD when your winnings are returned to your account.
The above websites are all operated by longstanding and respected corporations in their respective countries. Even though they may be based out of faraway jurisdictions, they can be trusted to handle your wagers fairly and give you an honest game every time.
Please remember to check the laws in your jurisdiction before you bet online. Each country takes a unique approach to online gambling. It’s always best to understand the laws before you wager.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is the only institution in Hong Kong authorized to host any form of gambling. It operates as a non-profit and donates all of its earnings to public charities through its sister organization the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. According to the HKJC website, the organization donates more than HK$1 billion to charity every year. The HKJC website also states that the organization focuses its charitable efforts on four key sectors:
- Community services
- Education and training
- Medical and health
- Sports, recreation and culture
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is also responsible for managing all legal public gambling in Hong Kong. The club provides parimutuel horse racing, the Mark 6 lottery and fixed-odds wagers on football matches outside of Hong Kong.
Residents can purchase lottery tickets and bet on horses and football at any of the HKJC’s 100+ branches across Hong Kong. No organization other than the HKJC may offer gambling to the public, and no member of the public may bet with anyone other than the HKJC.
Outside of gambling and charity, the HKJC is also a selective members-only club. Members of the HKJC receive special privileges, use of club facilities and invitations to exclusive events. Achieving membership in the HKJC is a sort of social status symbol.
It is worth noting that Hong Kong does not block gambling sites outside of the country that choose to accept Hong Kong bettors.
Social Gambling in Hong Kong
The Gambling Ordinance of 2002 banned most forms of gambling in Hong Kong, including placing wagers at offshore betting sites. The bill also explained which types of social or private gambling may be conducted.
Part 2 Section 3 of the bill explains that gambling is considered lawful when:
- Game is played on a social occasion in private premises
- Is not promoted or conducted by way of trade or business for the private gain of any person otherwise than to extent of a person’s winnings as a player
- If the game uses dice, dominoes, cards mahjong or tin kau tiles
- AND the game is played in a premises licensed as a restaurant, place holding a liquor license or private club house
- A fee is not charged to enter the game
- The game is not played by any person in charge or in a management position of the club
The bill goes into even more detail, but that’s the basic gist of it. Games such as poker and mahjong can be legally played for real money (in person, not online) if they meet certain conditions. You should be warned that Hong Kong police will raid games and make arrests if they do not meet the conditions outlined in the law.
If you’re considering gambling or playing poker in Hong Kong, make sure you fully understand the laws before you do. Hong Kong’s laws are harsh and they are enforced by local authorities. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to gambling in this part of the world.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.