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Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 2002
Length: 25 pages

Abstract

For almost three decades prior to the late 1990s, legal sports betting in Hong Kong seemed to serve two major purposes very effectively. Government regulation provided a safe and reliable way for Hong Kong residents to wager, primarily on local horse races, at the same time providing for a steady stream of both tax revenues and charitable funds for local social service agencies, schools, and parks. In the late 1990s, however, the closed doors of Hong Kong gambling were forced open by the introduction of new technologies such as cable television, inexpensive cell phone service and the advent of the Internet. Almost overnight, widespread illegal gambling, especially on international soccer (football) matches, boomed, becoming by some estimates a $2.5 billion a year phenomenon. This case examines the options available to Hong Kong''s Home Affairs Department as it considers how, or whether, to control the new wave of illegal gambling, which has cost the government and local charities millions of dollars and threatens to provide steady income for organized crime. The case allows for comparative consideration of such options as outright legalization, as well as a law enforcement crackdown. It is designed to support discussion of the Kennedy School''s public sector ''value-capacity-support'' paradigm. In other words, what options being considered in Hong Kong would be best for the city, which have the support of the public, and which can, as a practical matter, be implemented? The case was developed with the assistance of Hong Kong''s Civil Service Training and Development Institute.

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Abstract

For almost three decades prior to the late 1990s, legal sports betting in Hong Kong seemed to serve two major purposes very effectively. Government regulation provided a safe and reliable way for Hong Kong residents to wager, primarily on local horse races, at the same time providing for a steady stream of both tax revenues and charitable funds for local social service agencies, schools, and parks. In the late 1990s, however, the closed doors of Hong Kong gambling were forced open by the introduction of new technologies such as cable television, inexpensive cell phone service and the advent of the Internet. Almost overnight, widespread illegal gambling, especially on international soccer (football) matches, boomed, becoming by some estimates a $2.5 billion a year phenomenon. This case examines the options available to Hong Kong''s Home Affairs Department as it considers how, or whether, to control the new wave of illegal gambling, which has cost the government and local charities millions of dollars and threatens to provide steady income for organized crime. The case allows for comparative consideration of such options as outright legalization, as well as a law enforcement crackdown. It is designed to support discussion of the Kennedy School''s public sector ''value-capacity-support'' paradigm. In other words, what options being considered in Hong Kong would be best for the city, which have the support of the public, and which can, as a practical matter, be implemented? The case was developed with the assistance of Hong Kong''s Civil Service Training and Development Institute.

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