Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
Jockey Club. An overseas bookmaker commits an offence if he takes bets from someone in Hong Kong on the Internet. It is also illegal to place bets with an unauthorised operator and offshore Internet gambling websites, other than the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It should be noted that it does not matter whether the overseas operator may be licensed in its own home jurisdiction. 157
Betting with a bookmaker, whether the bet is received in Hong Kong or outside
Hong Kong, is an offence. It carries a punishment of HK$10,000 fine and three months’ imprisonment on the first conviction, HK$20,000 fine and six months’ imprisonment on the second conviction and a fine of HK$30,000 and nine months’
imprisonment on the third and subsequent conviction.
It has been argued that on the construction of the legal framework in Hong
Kong governing bookmaking may not cover some kinds of Internet gambling, namely, online lotteries and casino-style gambling. Such online lotteries and casino-style games
should be governed under the provisions on the prohibition gambling establishments, which arguably cover the Internet. 159
The GO restricts advertisements on gambling activities, including prohibiting
the promotion or facilitation of bookmaking160 and the restriction of broadcasts of forecasts, hints, odds or tips via TV or radio on unauthorised horse and dog racing. Advertising or marking betting-related services and other acts to facilitate offshore booking are prohibited.162 In particular, the provision of banking services (ie facilitating the opening and maintaining of accounts and transmissions of deposits and winnings) fall within the scope of the prohibition.163 Without such banking services, players will have to find other ways for the collection of deposits and bets and for payments, and it would be more expensive and inconvenient for them to do so. 161
The rationale for disallowing foreign-based operators targeting Hong Kong players, even though they are licensed in their home jurisdictions, was stated as allowing offshore bookmakers to operate legally in Hong Kong would make a mockery of the gambling policy of providing a limited number of authorised outlets and would put the authorised outlets at a disadvantage since they had to pay taxes. See Submission of Hong Kong SAR Home Affairs Bureau to Legco’s Bills Committee on the Gambling (Amendment) Bill on 11 May 2001, available at http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr00-01/english/bc/bc56/papers/1524e01.pdf.
GO, s 8.
See PP de Sena, “Internet Gambling Prohibition in Hong Kong: Law and Policy” (2008) HKLJ 453. There is a difference as to whether such activities fall within “bookmaking” or operating gambling establishment, due to the differences in burden of proof and admissibility of evidence.
GO, s 16B.
GO, s 16E.
GO, s 16C.
GO, s 16C(1)(b)(iii–vi).