HK Immigration informed about Pinay gamblers

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Immigration Tower in Wan Chai

THE police are informing the Immigration Department (ImmD) about Filipino domestic workers caught gambling illegally in Hong Kong, according to a Filipino migrant leader.

Shiella Grace Estrada, Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) secretary, said Immigration had also become “stricter” on this issue and her group had received reports of many visa applications from domestic workers being rejected.

“When you are arrested by the police, they get your Hong Kong ID card and they call Immigration. Many visa applications are now being rejected,” Estrada said in an interview on October 9.

“Even if it’s just the first or second (illegal gambling) offense and the case is not brought to court because no money was recovered, it’s still forwarded (to Immigration). They’re now stricter,” she added.

The Hong Kong Police earlier sent a letter to FADWU warning against Filipino domestic workers gambling illegally in Central.

“I was curious because they only sent it to a Filipino union (of FDHs). They did not send any to Indonesian or Thai groups,” Estrada said.

“The police officers told us that it’s because they see many Filipino domestic workers involved in illegal gambling,” she added.

Estrada said the Hong Kong Police thanked FADWU for its campaign to raise awareness among FDHs about the dangers of illegal gambling.

“And they say that Immigration is now stricter and we should be aware. It’s a shame that we are getting known for this,” she said.

The Hong Kong Police said it will continue to monitor illegal gambling activities “for enforcement” after receiving complaints of Filipino domestic workers gambling in Hong Kong’s Central business district.

In a statement, the police said it will spare no effort to go after those who violate Hong Kong’s Gambling Ordinance.

“Police have spared no effort in combating illegal gambling activities and have been monitoring such illegal activities for enforcement,” the statement read.

“Police have strategies in place and the flexibility to adjust the operation and deployment depending on the situation,” it added.

It said the Central Police District would take into the account the local situation in their jurisdiction, which includes areas where Filipino domestic workers stay during their day off on Sundays.

“Taking into account local situations, Central Police District correspondingly adopts strategies and takes enforcement actions to prevent and combat illegal gambling,” it said.

“Police also step up public education and cooperate with other departments and stakeholders when necessary to combat related crimes,” it added.

In July, the head of the Central Police District’s Special Duties Squad wrote FADWU and warned about Filipino domestic workers gambling in four areas in Central. Saying they had received “complaints,” the police warned Filipino domestic workers against gambling illegally in public places.

The police said they received complaints that domestic workers were gambling in Chater Garden, Lambeth Walk Garden (the garden beside Chater Garden going to Admiralty), near Murray Road Multi-Storey Carpark Building, and under the footbridge connecting Murray Road and Chater Road (the footbridge beside Chater Garden).

“The Police have received a number of complaints against Filipino domestic helpers suspected of participating in unlawful gambling activities (at these) locations in Central District,” the police official said.

The officer noted that “no matter the gambling amount,” gambling in a place that is not a gambling establishment in Hong Kong is a violation of the city’s Gambling Ordinance.

“Any person who contravenes the aforementioned commits an offense and is liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of $5,000,000 and up to seven years imprisonment,” the officer said.

Under the Hong Kong’s Gambling Ordinance, it is unlawful to gamble in the streets and gambling establishments should be licensed. Card games, chess, or other games could be played but there should be no money or other bets involved.