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Lottery Information

Mark Six

Mark Six (Chinese 六合彩) is a lotto game organized by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The game

Mark Six is a lottery style game where players have to guess what numbers will be drawn out of a lottery machine. The lottery machine is a transparent plastic sphere which contains colored balls numbered 1 to 49. The sphere is rotated to provide randomization in the drawing process.

Players choose six numbers out of the possible 49. Each selection of the numbers costs 5 HKD and is one selection of the (hoped for!) results of the lottery draw. In the draw, 7 numbers are drawn. The first six numbers drawn are called the "drawn numbers". The last one drawn is called the "extra number". Often, in Cantonese this number is called a 'half number'.

As of 2005, prizes are awarded as follows:

Prize - Numbers color chosen
1st Division Prize - All six drawn numbers
2nd Division Prize - Five drawn numbers and the extra number
3rd Division Prize - Five drawn numbers
4th Division Prize - Four drawn numbers and the extra number
5th Division Prize - Four drawn numbers
6th Division Prize - Three drawn numbers and the extra number
7th Division Prize - Three drawn numbers

The payout for the 1st - 3rd division prizes will depend on the sales of that draw, and the presence of Jackpots and Snowball (see below). The 1st prize is however guaranteed to be at least HK$5 million. Where there are multiple winners for a division, the prize is shared.

The lower order prizes are fixed as shown below:

4th Division Prize - Fixed at HK$4,800
5th Division Prize - Fixed at HK$320
6th Division Prize - Fixed at HK$160
7th Division Prize - Fixed at HK$20

Jackpots and Snowballs

If nobody wins the 1st and 2nd prizes, the money will be added to a Jackpot (多寶獎) in the next draw. The winner of 1st prize will also win the contents of the Jackpot (and if there is no winner, the process continues until there is). If there is no winner for several successive draws, the total 1st division prize can increase dramatically. Prizes up to HKD$50 million (compared to the normal HKD$5 million 1st division prize) have been seen several times in 2004 and 2005.

For each draw, a certain percentage (see below for details) of the entry money is deducted and placed into a Snowball Pool. On selected draws, the Snowball Pool is added to the 1st division prize as well. These draws are known as Snowball Draws (金多寶). The HKJC decides which draws are snowball draws. Usually the date is chosen to match a public holiday or festival, and the draw is named accordingly.

For example:

  • Mid-Autumn Snowball Draws
  • Easter Snowball Draws
  • Chinese New Year Snowball Draws
  • Summer Snowball Draws
  • Christmas Snowball Draws

These draws are very popular due to their large 1st division prizes.

Allocation of Entry Money

Similar to most lottery systems in the world, Mark Six is used as a method of raising money for the Hong Kong government. The game is also used to raise money for charitable purposes.

Every dollar spent on Mark Six is distributed as follows:

25% - Lottery Duty - paid to the Government
15% - Lotteries Fund - used for financing social welfare capital projects
6% - Commission - used to cover operating costs of the HKJC
54% - Prize Fund - used to fund prize

As with all lottery systems, the expected winnings is lower than the entry cost, making this an unfair game. In the presence of Jackpots or Snowballs, the payout ratio of Mark Six can be much higher.

The amounts required to pay the guaranteed prizes (divisions 4-7) are deducted first from the prize pool. Then, 7% is placed into the snowball fund and the remainder is shared as follows:

1st division prize - 45% of prize fund
2nd division prize - 15% of prize fund
3rd division prize - 40% of prize fund

Note: The third division prize is allocated a larger proportion of the prize fund than the second division prize, but the winnings for this division are usually much smaller since many more people win the third division prize than the second.

Fairness

The draws are broadcast live by one of the two free-to-air television stations in Hong Kong. To ensure the fairness of the draws, the HKJC invites outsiders to supervise the draw. They usually invite 2-3 people of high social status. For example, Justices of the Peace (JP, 太平紳士) are often invited. A few years ago, the HKJC started to invite representatives from the beneficiaries of its lottery fund as supervisors.

Popularity

The game is immensely popular in Hong Kong. It is considered normal for Hong Kong people to play Mark Six. When the prize jackpot is very high, it is not uncommon for a total in excess of HKD$120 million to be spent on Mark Six (this is 24 million games from a total population of 7 million in Hong Kong). The popularity is such that a resident who does not play Mark Six is often considered by some as not a "pure" Hong Konger.

Although the game is only available in Hong Kong, some people play it illegally in other countries, particularly in Mainland China. Apart from choosing the 6 numbers, people can make various side bets. Some of them are:

  • the color of the extra number (the numbers are drawn in the form of colored balls)
  • the parity (even or oddness) of the extra number

Outside of Hong Kong, the bet can be less than HK$5 to increase sales (inside Hong Kong it is illegal to make bet with parties aside from the HKJC).

Trivia

To ensure the unpredictability of the draw, the drawing machine is replaced once every few years.

The background music featured in the television broadcasts of the draws is a version of Inkpot, a song written by the Hague rock band Shocking Blue.

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