Hong Kong's Hidden Gems #2 -- Hong Kong Jockey Club Central Stanley Street Shop
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) owns all government approved sports betting and lottery stations in Hong Kong. These establishments normally offer few reasons for me to visit. But I recently ventured into one HKJC venue. This Stanley Street branch in busy Central has won the title of the luckiest (or most unlucky if you are the HKJC) betting site in recent years. Quite a few have won the grand prize in lottery, known locally as Mark Six, from this premise. The shop has recently undergone a major facelift. It now houses two restaurants, various horse racing and lottery artefacts, along with fun facts showcases.
Upon entry, there is an unexpected caravan setting that provides a homey feel for visitors. A real lottery ball drum machine is also on display. Opposite it is a historical wall detailing the evolution of Mark 6 over the years. Did you know that the lottery went from thirty-six numbers in 1976 to forty-nine in 2002? This made your already low odds of winning much worse over time. No wonder statistically, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning twice in your life than winning the lottery even once!
On the first floor, there is a Lady M cafe that offers good coffee along with their signature cakes. The two make a good afternoon tea combo and is a must-try in my opinion. What's more, there is a giant centre screen playing a hotly contested football match or horse race on race days (every Wednesday and Sunday). The tables are also thoughtfully arranged to ensure unobstructed views for most patrons. As expected in a betting branch, numerous TV screens are lined alongside the opposite wall to display odds and results of your favourite sporting events.
Be sure to "watch your steps" when you go up the stairs. These staircases contain many fun facts as they aptly showcase all grand prizes from lottery ticket purchased at the shop! Be on the lookout for engaging artefacts like the jockey weighing room on the second floor. Weigh yourself to see which horse you should ride to make the race fair. There are also more fun facts on this floor such as the Tic-Tac Man Manual to teach you how bookmakers used to communicate with each other with various hand gestures before the advent of mobile communication.
Speaking of the second floor, the branch hosts another restaurant called the Tic Tac Room. It is a Japanese fusion eatery that offers egg and pork dishes to the satisfaction of many. If you are not feeling too hungry, you can always go for a club sandwich instead. Like its cousin one floor down, there are also odds monitors and a big centre screen to showcase the latest sports action from around the world. You wouldn't miss a beat while keeping your stomach engaged.
|Numerous fun facts and artefacts in the branch
To many, the HKJC Stanley Street branch looks more like a museum with restaurants. But they finally go back to their roots on the third floor. On this level, you can find wagering counters, betting machines and friendly staff to help you with your betting needs. The layout somewhat resembles a college lecture room with desk-chairs allowing the serious punters to make notes and "do their homework" before wagering. Don't forget to test your luck with a Mark 6 ticket before leaving. I walked the walk in my first visit here. Unfortunately, the lottery gods did not think it was time for me to retire yet.
|Tic Tac Room, 3rd Wager Centre, My Mark 6 ticket
In my opinion, the HKJC revolutionized the betting experience with this amusing venue. The ambience of the branch is both fun and relaxing for serious and amateur punters alike. On weekdays, the eateries can also double as a nice hangout for local professionals seeking a break from the buzz of the city. To the tourists out there, this will be a unique experience for you to explore a betting shop in Hong Kong. Perhaps most importantly, new age patrons will no doubt be drawn to a superbly improved betting experience.
Well done, HKJC!