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History of Gambling in Hong Kong

After Hong Kong became a British colony, the British Hong Kong Government simply ignored the law of prohibition of gambling.  The government legislated publicly to tender gambling business.  This set a precedent for legal gambling in Hong Kong.  The new legislation made the gambling activities in Hong Kong into a red-hot atmosphere.  Englishmen always gave the impression that horses were particularly their favourite.  No matter where they colonized, they always brought horse racing there.  Began three hundred years ago, they were always looking for ideal horses everywhere in order to conduct the organized horse racing activities.  Today Hong Kong's prestigious Derby was originally held in Macau.  It set a precedent for horse racing.  In 1841, the racecourse was yet to be built in Wong Nai Chung.  Therefore, the British officials served Macau as racecourse during weekend holidays.  After obtained the consent of Macau government, they brought their horses to Macau and organized weekend Derby in Tap Siac Macau.  During 1842-1844, Hong Kong horse racings were ever officially held in Macau, it was organized merely as sports contest.  There was no any betting channel in racecourse.  Until 1845 a small racecourse was built in Pokfulam Hong Kong, there began the horse racing activities during weekends in Hong Kong.  Horse racings were officially held in Happy Valley, Hong Kong since 1858.

In June 17th, 1867, the British authorities suddenly issued the law of social order and decency, Article XVIII of which, The governor of Hong Kong was endowed with the power to do gambling tendering and taxation in public.  In the first of July same year, the first page of legal business officially began in gambling history in Hong Kong.  This act, in order to maintain social order and decency in name, in fact that flagrant gambling was allowed.  It came many upright citizens' strong objection.  Everyone understood that gambling was extremely harmful to the society.  They requested the Hong Kong British Government to withdraw the regulations.  In late 1871, the British colonial authority issued an instruction of gambling prohibition.  Finally, the ugliness in history of publicly gambling came to end in Hong Kong.  Nevertheness, by no means a paper instruction was really able to stop gambling activities since the people were disturbed too deep.  Hong Kong's gambling then became gradually into a variety of forms and patterns in accordance with the change of political situation.  No matter how it still existed and prevailed.

Hong Kong Jockey Club was founded in 1884, the race had evolved into a gambling activities.  Horse racing was popular.  The Hong Kong Jockey Club revenues was considerable and indirectly helped the promotion of social welfare.  Horse racing, introduced by the British since Hong Kong's inception, existed for over a hundred year.  It did not have the slightest signs of recession, it grew flourishing.  Even in the fall of Hong Kong, Japanese rulers made use of horse racing other than guns as an appeasement to whitewash peace and prosperity.  The horse racing kept running through 1997.  This kind of social activity went on and on and has never faded.  Horse racing seemed to be a symbol, a sign of social “stability and prosperity”.  Thus, the history of horse racing in Hong Kong can be treated as an indispensable social history.

Mahjong has been serving as a traditional Chinese social activity.  In 1841 Hong Kong was governed by the British.  In 1871 Hong Kong government banned gambling activities, all common gaming houses were prohibited running.  Manjong was most Guangdongese's entertainment when leisure, the actual occurrence of mahjong was eligible for a restricted reservation.  In 1956, Hong Kong Police Force of the Government began to provide for licenses to run mahjong business.  The Government issued 144 licenses because there were total 144 ivory cards.  Since gambling was prohibited in law, the English name of mahjong license had to be renamed as “Mahjong School”.  As time changed, gambling varied.  Therefore, mahjong schools reduced to 66 until 30th June, 2011.

During the ancient and modern time, both legitimate and illegitimate gamblings exist in Hong Kong at the same time.  Legitimate activities include horse ticket, horse racing, soccer betting, mark six lottery and mahjong playing.  Hong Kong Mark Six was launched in 1975.  Until now it has been running for 32 years.  At that time the Government tried to replace illegal lottery.  When launched, the betting persons could choose six numbers out of 36.  Nowadays, number of Mark Six increases to 49.  It is well received by the public.  The illegitimate activities include ‘zi-hua’, ‘shi-wu-hu’, ‘shi-san-zhang’, side bet of dog racing, side bet of horse racing, side bet of soccer betting, different gambling styles such as fan-tan, pai-gow, big & small, blackjack, yu-xia-xie in underground casinos and internet gambling.  As side bet of soccer betting was rampant, Hong Kong SAR announced that soccer betting  became normalization in August 2003.  Soccer betting provided by The Hong Kong Jockey Club was thereby accepted.  Horse racing in Hong Kong has been more than one hundred and fifty years history.  It becomes one of the most popular activities until now.  In 2009 more five race days were permitted to increase during new season, and also to increase to broadcast fifteen events of overseas races.  By means of races increases, they hoped to further combat illegal and offshore makers.  Horse ticket were simultaneously launched in the 125th anniversary.


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