Anyone who wishes to conduct a trade promotion with prizes in Hong Kong, which falls within the ambit of "lottery" and/or "gaming" as defined under the Gambling Ordinance, is required to obtain a license from the Office of the Licensing Authority, Home Affairs Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the 'Licensing Authority').
'Lottery' as defined under the Gambling Ordinance includes, inter alia, raffles, sweepstakes, certain specific local Chinese gambling sports, any competition involving guessing or estimating results that does not depend to a substantial degree on skill of competitors which distributes or allots prizes by lot or chance, and any game, method, device or scheme for distributing or allotting prizes by lot or chance.
'Gaming' as defined means "playing of or at any game for winnings in money or other property whether or not any person playing the game is at risk of losing any money or other property".
According to the internal guideline of the Licensing Authority, if such promotion with prizes involves purely a game of chance, a Trade Promotions License is required. On the other hand, if such promotion with prizes involves a game of chance and skill combined, an Amusements With Prizes License is required. In this regard, the title of the two licenses is rather misleading since the applicant will have to ascertain the nature of the game involved, as opposed to the purpose of the game, when deciding for which one of the two licenses they should apply.
The above position applies as long as a Hong Kong resident (whether permanent or non-permanent resident) is able to enter such promotion. As such, if a Hong Kong resident is able to enter a promotion with "Lottery" and/or "Gaming" involved and such promotion is operated purely online and outside of Hong Kong, one of the two licenses is required to be obtained, depending on whether an element of skill is present. In practice, it may be difficult to enforce the rules in these circumstances, but the relevant authorities in Hong Kong will begin investigations upon receiving a complaint.
For the Trade Promotions License, an overseas applicant with no branch in Hong Kong should appoint and authorize an agent whose business is registered in Hong Kong to be the applicant. Details of the applicant company are required to be stated in the application form and the license will be issued to that company.
For the Amusements With Prizes License, it is a prerequisite to obtain a valid Places of Public Entertainment License granted by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance (Cap. 172).
The Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance does not explicitly have extra-territorial effect, i.e. it governs activities of data users who control the collection, holding, processing or use of personal data in or from Hong Kong.
The Trade Descriptions Ordinance applies if, at the time of engaging in the commercial practice, the trader is in Hong Kong or if Hong Kong is the trader's usual place of business.
Last modified 8 Jan 2019