Gaming | Macau is second choice for Hong Kong gamblers

An exterior view of the Metropolis Cruise gambling ship in Hong Kong

A recent study on the gambling activities of Hong Kong residents has shown that Macau’s integrated resorts are the second choice for inhabitants of the neighboring SAR, with their first preference being casino ships.

The “Study on Hong Kong People’s Participation in Gambling Activities in 2016” surveyed more than 1,250 respondents who said that they had gambled in the past year, and found that the average monthly amount gambled on casino ships (HKD45,259.6) far outstripped that at Macau casinos (HKD7,938.8).

This was compared to the average betting on Mark Six lottery (HKD159.9), social gambling (HKD423.8), horse race betting (HKD5,610.6) and football betting (HKD1,598.7).

In 2016, gambling at Macau’s casinos and on casino ships were approximately 5.6 and 20 times higher, respectively, than the figures recorded in a similar study in 2012.

While the mean bet placed per month was HKD7,938.8, the median bet was around HKD167.

Around 8.4 percent of respondents said that they had visited a Macau casino in the past year, and more than two-thirds said that they had visited Macau between one and three times in the past year.

According to the data published in the study, around 7 percent of the respondents gambled in the MSAR more than once a month, and just over 1 percent once or more per week.

However, those gambling at Macau’s casinos – alongside horse race and football betting – nevertheless had a significantly higher chance of becoming problem gamblers than those on casino ships.

According to the report summary published on the Hong Kong government’s official webpage, the rate of Hong Kongers’ participation in gambling activities was 61.5 percent in 2016, lower than 62.3 percent registered in 2012.

“The participation rate of secondary school students also fell from 33.5 percent in 2012 to 21.8 percent in 2016, representing a substantial decrease from 54 percent in 2001,” the summary stated.

Despite the lower average bets placed by the respondents in the survey, the most popular gambling activities were the Mark Six lottery and social games such as mahjong and poker.

The report also highlighted the popularity of social gaming among students, especially secondary school pupils. Conversely, the online gambling participation rate of secondary school pupils dropped between the two surveys.

Meanwhile, around 12.5 percent of telephone survey respondents said that they had participated in horse race betting in the past year. This participation rate was slightly lower than the 12.9 percent recorded in 2012 and considerably lower than the 30.4 percent in 2001.

Analyzed by demographic, the study found that gamblers who were unemployed job seekers and those aged between 30 and 49 had a proportionally higher participation rate in the Mark Six lottery, at 94.3 percent and 93 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, female respondents, employers and students recorded a proportionally higher rate of social gambling, at 55.5 percent, 64.9 percent and 64.5 percent respectively.

Male respondents, employers and those aged between 50 and 64 demonstrated more interest in horse race betting at 31.2 percent, 35.1 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively.

As for their propensity to visit Macau’s casinos, employers were the most likely group, with 24.3 percent of respondents saying they had placed bets in the MSAR in the past year. Likewise, those who had the highest education level (bachelor’s degree or above) were also more likely to bet in Macau. DB/JZ

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