Frequently Asked Questions

Entertainment Licensing

Amusement Game Centre Licence
What criteria are employed in the granting of Amusement Game Centre Licences (AGCL)?
Under the terms of the Amusement Game Centres Ordinance (AGCO), which regulates amusement game centres, an AGCL will not normally be granted unless the public officer appointed by the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs is satisfied that:
  1. the person applying for the licence is an individual person who has attained the age of 18; is fit to operate an amusement game centre; will adequately and personally supervise the operation of that centre; and is not the agent, representative or servant of any person whose AGCL has been revoked or whose application to renew an AGCL has been refused; and
  2. the place of the proposed operation is suitable for the operation of an amusement game centre and is located in an area suitable for such operation.
Can a body corporate or partnership hold an AGCL?
The person applying for an AGCL must be an individual who meets the requirements of Section 5(4)(a) of the AGCO. In the case of a body corporate or a partnership, the applicant must be a person authorised by the body corporate or the partnership as its agent or representative.
Is an AGCL required for the provision of amusement game facilities in the clubhouses of private residential estates?
Rather than apply for an AGCL, the authorised person in this case may apply to the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs for a licence exemption to provide amusement game facilities to residents and their visitors inside the clubhouse of a private residential estate. The Guidance Notes setting out the application procedures and relevant requirements can be accessed at the "Application Forms and Guides" of our website.
How is the 100-metre area specified in the licensing requirement measured?
The area is determined by marking a circle that is 100 metres in radius with the main entrance of the proposed amusement game centre at its centre. For details of this requirement, please refer to paragraph (1)(b) of "How to Apply" on page 2 of the "General Information on Application for Grant of a Licence" in "Guidance Notes on Application for the Grant of Amusement Game Centre Licence". It can be accessed at the "Application Forms and Guides" of our website.
Is an AGCL required for operating an e-sports venue?
Considering that e-sports venue, depending on its business operation, may be subject to the regulation under the AGCO, but applying some of the licensing requirements under the AGCO to e-sports venue may hinder the long-term development of the e-sports industry, the OLA adopts an appropriate mechanism to exempt e-sports venues from the requirements of AGCL. Operators or the authorised representatives (if the applicant is a body corporate) of e-sports venues may apply to the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs for an exemption of e-sports venues from licence requirement under the AGCO. For details, please refer to the guidance note setting out the application procedures and relevant requirements at the "Application Forms and Guides" of our website.

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Trade Promotion Competition Licence
What is a Trade Promotion Competition Licence (TPCL)?
A trade promotion competition, as defined by the Gambling Ordinance established to regulate gambling activities, is a competition or scheme conducted for the purpose of promoting a trade/business/product sale by way of a game that distributes or allots prizes by lot/chance. Typical examples are lucky draws organised by department stores and restaurants to boost sales and promote business. Anyone who wishes to conduct a trade promotion competition in Hong Kong must apply for a TPCL from the public officer appointed by the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs.
How many TPCLs does an organisation require if it wishes to conduct daily draws during a certain period, say a month?
The number of TPCLs required depends on the relationship between the daily draws. If there is no connection between draws, i.e., the pool of those who did not win the daily prize on day 1 is not carried forward to the pool on day 2, they are regarded as separate and independent trade promotion competitions; hence, one TPCL is required for each daily draw. If, in contrast, the daily draws are to be conducted on a cumulative basis, i.e., those who did not win a daily prize on day 1 are added to the day 2 pool or those who failed to win a daily prize during the month are pooled together for a grand draw, only one TPCL is required for the entire event.
Are there any restrictions on the types of games, tools and prizes that can be involved in a trade promotion competition?
Any game that carries an explicit gambling connotation or serves as an alternative form of authorized gambling (e.g., a game in a casino, a mahjong, bingo or card game, guessing the results of football matches/horse races, Mark Six-type games, etc.) is forbidden. Likewise, such gambling tools and symbols as slot machines, roulette wheels, cards, chips, mahjong tiles and dice should not be employed, and such prizes as Mark Six tickets and mahjong tiles are not permitted. In addition, games that are not socially sanctioned are discouraged.
If I plan to conduct a trade promotion competition through an agent, should my company or that of the agent be the licence applicant?
If your company is a registered business in Hong Kong, it should be the applicant. However, you can still appoint an agent company to conduct the competition on your behalf. If the company wishing to conduct the trade promotion competition in Hong Kong is based overseas and has no branch office in Hong Kong, it should appoint and authorize an agent whose business is registered in Hong Kong to be the applicant. Please note that Form 7 must include details of the applicant company, and the licence is issued to that company.
Are there any restrictions on the title of the competition?
Licence condition (1) requires that no prize offered shall be a money prize. Even if the prizes offered are cash coupons, gift coupons or credit card spending credit, the competition should not carry such misleading titles as ‘Great Chance to Win Cash’ or ‘$10,000 Lucky Draw’. Moreover, the name of the prize sponsor cannot be included in the title if it is not a joint promotion event.
Can I conduct the competition through my distribution channels (such as department stores, chain stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.)?
Yes, but you and your distribution channel(s) will each require a licence if it is a joint promotion event. As your distribution channel may conduct a competition of their own or other brands during yours, you are advised to clear with them the terms and conditions. For example, whether the winner of your competition will be allowed to retain the original receipt for joining other competitions.
Can I collect participants' information through different methods at the same time (such as by telephone registration, mail, fax, internet registration, email and SMS message)?
Yes, but the same entry (e.g., the same receipt number) should be counted once only to ensure equal winning chance for all participants. You should therefore remove all duplicate entries before drawing the winner(s).
Do I need to advertise the competition results in newspapers if it is an instant-win game where the winners claim their prizes on the spot?
Yes, you still need to place advertisements in newspapers which is a requirement by the law. Although the participants may not have left their personal particulars with you, you should account for the completion of the event to the effect that all the winners have claimed their prizes. You are also advised to leave a contact telephone number and/or website in case your patrons have enquiries regarding the event.

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Lottery Licence
If an organisation employs part-time workers to sell lottery tickets on public streets, will their salaries be counted as part of the lottery ticket's 'expenses', as stated on the application form?
'Expenses' refers only to the basic administrative costs incurred in the conduct of a lottery, e.g., the costs of printing the lottery tickets and publishing the draw results in newspapers. The salaries of part-time workers do not fall into this category. Please also note that you should keep the administrative expenses as low as possible, which should not be more than 20% of the total proceeds received from the sale of lottery tickets.
Which types of organisations can apply for a Lottery Licence?
The applicant organisation must be a bona fide non-profit-making organisation registered in Hong Kong. Even if your organisation is not a charitable institution or trust of a public character that is exempt from tax under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap.112), you may still organise lottery events for the benefit of such organisations, as long as you provide their acknowledgement/consent letter and an approval letter certifying tax exemption under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance.
Can a Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) apply for a Lottery Licence to raise funds for teaching equipment or the financing of a school project?
Yes. The PTA should obtain an acknowledgement letter from the school stating that the school is aware of the proposed lottery event and will accept the amount raised for the stated purpose and submit it to Office of the Licensing Authority together with the relevant application forms. After completion of the event, the PTA is required to submit an official receipt from the school for the amount received, an Income and Expenditure Statement of the event, and an Audited Annual Financial Statement indicating the flow of money to the school for the intended purpose.
This is the first time my organisation has applied for a Lottery Licence. What documents do I need to produce in addition to the application forms?
If this is the first time your organisation has applied for a Lottery Licence, you are required to submit Audited Annual Financial Statements for the past three years and three years' worth of Annual Reports/Newsletters/a track record of the organisation's activities/charitable works.
Is it possible for my organisation to carry out lottery activities more than once a year?
Organisations are permitted to apply for only one Lottery Licence every 12 months. Exceptions will be made at the public officer's discretion only in the event of unpredictable and ad hoc circumstances, such as a lottery held to raise funds for the victims of a natural disaster.
What should I do if I plan to sell lottery tickets on public streets?
You must first apply for a Lottery Licence authorising you to organise a lottery event. If you plan to sell lottery tickets on public streets, you should apply to Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) in writing at least three calendar weeks in advance and provide details of the proposed sale dates, duration, exact locations, number of workers/participants and equipment. To enable OLA to devise a fair distribution of fund-raising venues, dates and frequency amongst all potential applicants, you are advised to apply at the earliest opportunity. Please note that public officer only approves the sale of lottery tickets on public streets. To sell them in such public places as shopping malls, railway concourses, housing estates, etc., the applicant must separately seek the approval/consent of the relevant authorities/management.
What should I do if I want to sell lottery tickets, collect money with donation boxes and conduct a charitable sale at the same event?
A Lottery Licence applies only to the sale of lottery tickets at a fixed price. If you intend to carry out any fund-raising activity other than selling lottery tickets at a particular event, you should obtain approval from the Social Welfare Department, Food and Hygiene Department and Division III of Home Affairs Department, etc.
How can we enhance our governance and internal control when organizing lottery activities?
The Corruption Prevention Department of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has published the “Best Practice Checklist - Management of Charities and Fund-Raising Activities” to provide a practical guide on good governance and internal control for use by charitable organisations when organizing fund-raising activities. Lottery organisers are therefore advised to read the booklet which can be downloaded from ICAC’s homepage at www.icac.org.hk/filemanager/en/Content_1031/fund_raising.pdf. For further information, please contact the ICAC Advisory Services Group of the Corruption Prevention Department.

Download full set of Frequently Asked Questions of Lottery Licence (in PDF format)

 

Amusements with Prizes Licence
Under what circumstances is an Amusements with Prizes Licence (AWPL) required?
Any person who wants to organise or conduct a game of amusement with prizes at premises licensed under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance regulating places of public entertainment must apply for a licence from the public officer appointed by the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs. Functions such as funfairs, bazaars and grand fetes usually require an AWPL.
Why is it necessary to apply for a Places of Public Entertainment Licence (PPEL) in addition to an AWPL?
This is a statutory requirement of the Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148). According to section 22(1)(a)(iii) of this Ordinance, public officer appointed by the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs may issue an AWPL to an applicant only after a PPEL has been issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to the premises involved.
Does the operation of (1) a claw machine or (2) a toy capsule machine require an Amusements with Prizes Licence (AWPL) under the Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148)?

According to section 2 of the Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148) (the “Ordinance”), “gaming” means the 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.

“Game” means a game of chance and a game of chance and skill combined and a pretended game of chance or chance and skill combined, and also means any game whatever in which - (a) a bank is kept by one or more of the players exclusively of the others; or (b) the chances of the game are not equally favourable to all the players, including among the players, the banker or other person by whom the game is managed or against whom the players stake, play or bet.

Under section 3 of the Ordinance, if the game is a game of amusement with prizes, the organisation and conduct of which should obtain an AWPL; otherwise, the concerned gaming event is unlawful.

(1) Claw Machine

A typical claw machine allows a customer to attempt to obtain an item available in the machine by a mechanical claw upon payment. Regardless of whether the customer can obtain an item from the machine, the game will end when the specified time is reached. It is uncertain whether a customer will obtain an item from the machine upon payment and the monetary value of the items available in the machine is significantly higher than the payment by the customer. Hence, the attempt to obtain an item from the claw machine may constitute “gaming”. The operation of such machine is therefore regulated by the Ordinance and an AWPL is required.

(2) Toy Capsule Machine

A typical toy capsule machine will randomly dispense an item upon payment. A customer will be clearly informed of the type(s) of items available in that particular machine, and the monetary values of items available in the machine are largely the same (e.g. same type of product but in different colors) and unlikely to exceed the payment by a customer. In such circumstances, the operation of such machine, which is similar to other common means of selling products, would generally not constitute “gaming”. An AWPL is therefore not required.

However, if the monetary value of some items inside the toy capsule machine is significantly higher than that of the other items, obtaining an item from such machine may constitute “gaming”. The operation of such machine is regulated by the Ordinance and hence an AWPL is required.

Whether the business operation modes of claw machine and toy capsule machines may constitute “gaming”, and hence require an AWPL will be determined on the actual game method or operation mode of such machines. The above examples are for general reference only.

If a shop operator organizes activities where participants will get prize(s) or item(s) of different values, is an Amusements with Prizes Licence (AWPL) required?

In general, an AWPL is required if the activity concerned is a game of amusement with prizes which constitutes “gaming” as defined in section 2 of the Gambling Ordinance. Each case will be determined on its own facts and circumstances.

In any event, the Office of the Licensing Authority will not issue an AWPL, unless the playing/operation modes of the relevant activity comply with the requirements for the issue of AWPL and fulfil all the vetting criteria for games of amusements with prizes.

How may an applicant of Amusements with Prizes Licence (AWPL) be eligible for a waiver or reduction of the licence fee? What is the application procedure?

In general, an application for a waiver of the licence fee of AWPL may be favourably considered if the applicant organisation or the ‘parent’ organisation of the applicant organisation is a charitable institution or trust of a public character which is exempted from tax under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112). As for an application for reduction of licence fee, it may normally be granted if the applicant organisation is a non-commercial or voluntary services group and does not charge or collect any fees for the participation in the games of amusements with prizes or admission to the venue.

These requests should be made by the applicant of the licence in writing to the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) stating the reasons and enclosing all supporting documents. The OLA will consider each case on its own merits.

Download full set of Frequently Asked Questions of Amusements with Prizes Licence (in PDF format)

 

Tombola Licence
Can the winnings of tombola games be paid out in kind, such as toys or gift coupons?
The winnings should be in the form of cash.

Download full set of Frequently Asked Questions of Tombola Licence (in PDF format)

 

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Trade Promotion Competition Licence
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