Consequences and penalties of illegal gambling

The Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148) stipulates that all gambling activities including soliciting, receiving or settling of bets are illegal except authorised horse racing, football betting and the Mark Six lottery operated by the Club, services provided by those licenced by the Home Affairs Bureau like mahjong parlours, and social gambling exempted under the legislation.

There are widespread misconceptions that it is only illegal to place bets with intermediaries of illegal gambling operations, while wagering with overseas gambling website is not. Some inadvertently believe that it is difficult for the authorities to trace their gambling transactions online. In fact, any bets placed by Hong Kong people with betting websites not operated by the Club are considered illegal, and many bettors have been arrested for this offence over the years.

Under current legislation, those who accept bets illegally are subject to a maximum penalty of HK$5 million and imprisonment of up to seven years. Those who participate in illegal gambling are subject to a maximum penalty of HK$30,000 and a prison term of up to nine months.

In addition to siphoning public resources from Hong Kong, illegal gambling has negative impact on charitable donations that can benefit all walks of life. It will also bring about serious social ills, including loan-sharking, corruption, violence in debt collection, problem gambling and family issues.