|Hong Kong’s Gambling (Amendment) bill is expected to become law today when it is tabled for a third reading by the Legislative Council tomorrow. The major political parties are expected to support the bill.|
The revised bill becomes effective nine days before the impending soccer World Cup Finals, which kicks off in Japan on May 31. The bill is aimed at cracking down on Hong Kong’s illegal bookmakers.
The bill contains a significant extra-territorial element to combat unauthorized cross-border gambling, whether bookmaking or placing bets. The new element outlaws bookmaking and betting with bookmakers even if the bets are received outside Hong Kong, unless the transactions take place wholly outside the territory.
This new element would, it seems, preclude Internet gambling, as the issue of where the transaction takes place has been problematic for legislators world-wide.
Under the new Section 16A, the bill makes it illegal to conduct cash-sweeps on horse or dog races and similar activities.
The bill also bars local TV and radio stations from broadcasting any forecasts, odds or tips on offshore horse or dog races within 12 hours of the start of an event by virtue of the new Section 16D.
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Stephen Fisher said that court warrants to seize the relevant information will only be issued when police have reason to suspect people are involved in illegal bookmaking but the procedure is subject to very strict internal guidelines.