All types of gambling are legal in Hong Kong but the government keeps a very close eye on what’s happening and regulations are tight.
This page will provide a full overview of the situation and detail all laws relating to online and offline betting in Hong Kong.
Online betting and gambling legal with licensed operators (since 2006).
Football betting (soccer) is the most popular with punters.
Legal gambling age is 18+.
Overseas providers legal with a license (current non exist).
New laws proposed to help with self exclusion and addiction prevention.
Gambling Legislation & Laws
Often the best way to understand the legal situation surrounding gambling in any given country is to look back through the legislation passed over the years. The following timeline allows you to do just that for Hong Kong’s gambling industry:
1977 – The Gambling Ordinance
It was in 1977 under the Gambling Ordinance that gambling was first legalised and regulated in Hong Kong.
That piece of legislation determined that gambling was only legal in certain licensed gambling establishments and established a monopoly over lotteries, horse racing betting and other sports betting for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
2002 – The Gambling (Amendment) Ordinance
In 2002, the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Gambling (Amendment) Ordinance. This piece of legislation banned all offshore gambling, including offshore internet gambling but did allow for the Hong Kong Jockey Club to offer some online gambling services in the shape of selling lottery tickets and providing horse racing and football betting.
It was this legislation, too, which set down the potential punishments for anyone found operating or using illegal offshore and internet gambling services. These are that representatives of providers can be jailed for up to seven years and the company fined $5 million HKD, and that users of the services can be imprisoned for up to nine months and fined $30,000 HKD.
2014 – Home Affairs Bureau Announcement
In spite of the 2002 legislation, overseas online gambling operators continued to cater for Hong Kong citizens. Whilst this is illegal and the Hong Kong authorities do not condone it, the Home Affairs Bureau did state in 2014 that they would not seek to block access to unlicensed betting websites.
Tax On Winnings?
Another important element of any country’s legal stance on gambling is how the activity is viewed when it comes to tax. In Hong Kong, the situation is mercifully simple as there is currently no mechanism at all for punters to be taxed on their winnings.
In the case of legal gambling provided through licensed establishments and organisations such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it is those companies who are taxed and not their customers. When it comes to punters who use illegal online gambling sites, too, the Hong Kong authorities have no way of levying tax on winnings. They can, however, prosecute individuals who do take part in illegal gambling and impose prison sentences and fines.
Deposit Methods: What Works?
Most Hong Kong banks and credit card providers do not allow their customers to deposit to illegal overseas gambling providers. As such, credit or debit card deposits are simply not an option for those individuals.
Instead, many of those punters choose to deposit with their chosen sites through e-wallet services such as Skrill or Moneybookers. These services offer a kind of buffer between the gambling sites and a customer’s bank, and in many cases it is only the name of the e-wallet which shows up on a bank statement and not where the money ultimately goes.