Jackpot for charities in bumper Mark Six
The three people who shared Friday's record Mark Six jackpot - each winning HK$44.5 million - were not the only winners.
Charities will also enjoy a windfall as they take a cut of proceeds.
With more than HK$133 million up for grabs, Hongkongers splashed out a record HK$343 million on the draw, on top of HK$159 million in a draw three days earlier.
For each bet placed, 15 per cent goes to the Lotteries Fund, which is managed by the Social Welfare Department to support more than 100 organisations.
So after the two draws, HK$75 million will be injected into the fund. Mark Six turnover, which contributed HK$898 million to the fund last year, is its major source of income.
Kwok Lit-tung, chief executive of the Christian Family Service Centre, said last year the fund helped it maintain centres for the elderly, buy furniture and run new projects. The organisation will receive HK$6.1 million this financial year.
'It costs us millions to maintain some of our older centres, and it would be difficult for us to raise that money ourselves. The fund makes our income more regular and our operation smoother,' Kwok said.
A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, which will receive HK$13.7 million this year, said the money was used to modernise centres for young people.
However, Joe Tang Yiu-cho, a social work supervisor of the Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counselling Centre, said charity did not justify gambling. 'The charity side of the Mark Six just neutralises the negative image of gambling and makes gamblers feel better,' he said. 'If they want to do charity, they should just donate the money to the organisations directly. In this way, they can help more people.'
Caritas will get HK$11 million from the fund this year. Tang said there was no contradiction with the centre's stance. 'We're helping those who are addicted to gambling. There's a need for services to help addicted gamblers while gambling is legalised in Hong Kong.'
Meanwhile, the government is also a winner, with lottery duty of HK$126 million from the two draws.