People attend the season opening horse race at the Sha Tin Racecourse of the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Hong Kong on Sept 2, 2018. (PHILIP FONG / AFP)
HONG KONG – The participation rate of gambling activities and the prevalence of gambling disorder among Hong Kong’s residents were on the decline, according to survey released on Friday.
The rate of the participation in gambling activities declined to 39.5 percent in 2021 from 61.5 percent in 2016, in a significant decrease from 80.4 percent in 2005, the year where the first study was conducted.
The study – commissioned by the Ping Wo Fund and conducted by the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong in 2021 – also showed the participation rate of secondary school students fell from 21.8 percent in 2016 to 15.9 percent in 2021, representing a substantial decrease from 32.3 percent in 2005.
The rate of potential gambling disorder among the city’s residents dropped from 1.4 percent in 2016 to 0.45 percent in 2021, according to a study report commissioned by the Ping Wo Fund and conducted by the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong in 2021
Meanwhile, the rate of potential gambling disorder among the city’s residents also dropped from 1.4 percent in 2016 to 0.45 percent in 2021, according to the study report.
The prevalence rate of secondary school students was 0.4 percent, while the rate of potential problems or pathological gambling among the students was 0.7 percent in 2016, it added.
“The Home and Youth Affairs Bureau and the Ping Wo Fund Advisory Committee will formulate the future work plan by making reference to the recommendations of the study,” a spokesman for the committee said in a statement.
“We will also request the Hong Kong Jockey Club to follow up on the results and recommendations of the study as appropriate."
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The most popular gambling activities among the respondents were the Mark Six Lottery and social gambling such as mahjong and poker, while secondary school students mainly participated in social gambling.
On horse race betting, 11.3 percent of telephone survey respondents among the general public indicated participating in horse race betting in the past year. The participation rate was slightly lower than that of 12.5 percent in 2016, while that of secondary school students was similar to the data in 2016, both at 0.7 percent.
Total 6.3 percent of the respondents participated in football betting in the past year, which was slightly lower than the 2016 figure by 0.3 percentage points. Secondary school students’ participation continued to decline from 1.2 percent in 2016 to 0.6 percent in 2021.
The study had attributed some of the decreasing trends to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the prevalence may increase when the epidemic situation became more stable
Regarding online gambling, the participation rate of the respondents and secondary school students in the past year were both at 0.3 percent. The rate of secondary school students in 2021 was lower than that in 2016 at 1.0 percent.
The study had attributed some of the decreasing trends to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the prevalence may increase when the epidemic situation became more stable.
“In order to prevent an increase in the participation in gambling activities by Hong Kong people in the post-COVID-19 period, the Ping Wo Fund will enhance public education and publicity efforts in the coming year to publicize the harm of addiction to gambling and promote the important message of 'healthy living, no gambling' to the general public,” the spokesman added.
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The study was conducted among people aged 15 or above through a telephone survey, a self-administered questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, individual interviews and other methods.