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Police leave empty-handed after raid on City Hall gamblers

06 April 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao
Photo beside the bus stop outside City Hall shows gamblers placing bets of between $200-$500 per game

Hong Kong police launched a surprise raid on illegal gamblers near a bus stop beside City Hall in Edinburgh Place last Saturday, Apr 4, but left the place empty-handed.

The Police Public Relations Branch said the force received information around 3pm that groups of migrant workers were illegally gambling with playing cards near the stop for bus 13 at City Hall.

But when officers arrived, the groups of workers betting on the card games as well as the South Asian bankers scampered, said Filipino migrants who saw the incident.
“There was no illegal gambling when the officers arrived. No one was arrested,” a PPRB spokeswoman said on Apr 5.

In a recent statement, the Hong Kong Police said that it “has spared no effort in combating illegal gambling activities and has been monitoring such illegal activities for enforcement.” 

However, the illegal betting in Central continued, even after the Consulate issued an advisory on Mar 4 against the activity, and warned of the stiff penalties that await offenders.
The PCG issued the warning after the police called its attention to groups of Filipino workers who were illegally gambling in various areas in Central.

According to Consul General Raly Tejada, he personally visited the notorious site after the warning was put up to plead with the Filipinos gambling there to stop, but was ignored.

The footpath around City Hall has been roped off, but gamblers simply squat on the area beside it.
He was told afterwards that a syndicate run by a group of Filipinos and South Asians could be behind the proliferation of illegal gambling in the area.

A video taken on Mar 15 showed workers milling around three groups of gamblers beside the Bus 13 stop. The bankers were South Asian men who were being assisted by Filipinas. Other South Asian men mixed with kibitzers and served as lookouts.
Bets laid on the playing mat ranged from $200 to $500 and money changed hands quickly.

A walk around Central recently showed groups of workers also gambling at another hotspot, the vicinity of the HSBC headquarters along Queen’s Road and Des Voeux Road.

Similar groups could also be seen playing cards for small bets along a footbridge linking Chater Garden in Central and Queensway Plaza in Admiralty.

This time, however, the card or bingo players were complying with the four-to-a-group rule by the government to help stop the coronavirus spread.

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