You could be forgiven for not realizing how important online gambling has become in Hong Kong. If you were visiting the streets of Hong Kong, you would notice random shop keepers scrolling through their smartphones. Passers by would think they were checking the weather or reading the news, but they were probably studying betting odds for football matches.
Lower and middle class income individuals in Hong Kong have taken to online gambling like a hand to gloves. They want to make money off their knowledge of sports. For some, it is a hobby. For others, it is a possible route to financial freedom. They could make more money betting on football games than their businesses would get them in a lifetime.
Even though a majority of online gamblers in Hong Kong end up losing, the chance of winning big is enough incentive to come back for more. There are no other “get rich quick” schemes in the country, which is why online bookies have flourished.
Against the Law –
Ironically, betting online on sports games is not allowed in Hong Kong law. Most of the sites being used are operated outside of the country, or by illegal betting rings. The people who place bets are aware of this, but they do not care. No one is arrested or charged in Hong Kong for placing bets. If anyone gets into trouble, it is the bookies.
There is the small threat of being caught, but betters do not care. The chance of winning thousands of dollars trumps any small fears of getting in trouble with the authorities. Most illegal Hong Kong bookies offer better odds than the one or two established casinos in the area. In addition, they allow more leeway in how much you can bet. As long as you break even over a period of time, there is nothing to worry about.
Smartphones, tablets and computers have ensured that Hong Kong’s illegal gambling industry is booming. Online sports books and casinos are constantly competing to get as many customers as possible. However, the popularity of this vice does not make it okay. Many of the illegal sites people use have troubling ties to organized crime in Hong Kong and China.
A newspaper in South China, the Morning Post, conducted an intensive investigation into some of these betting circles. They found a lot of companies that had registered dummy corporations throughout the world in an attempt to hide their identities. In addition, many of the online sites have been linked to money laundering. Crime bosses will partner with gambling sites in a bid to “white wash” their earnings from drug trafficking and other crimes.