5/22/2002 (AP) HONG KONG — Just in time to crack down on World Cup soccer gambling, Hong Kong lawmakers voted Wednesday to ban people from placing overseas bets.

“This should help us to maintain our strict gambling laws and to dispel the illegal gambling trend,” Lam Woon-kwong, secretary for home affairs, told legislators.

The bill is expected to go into effect by next week, in time to outlaw overseas betting on the World Cup, which will be held May 31-June 30 in South Korea and Japan.

The bill would make it illegal for Hong Kong citizens to place bets with overseas bookmakers through telephones or the Internet.

It is already illegal to bet on the World Cup within Hong Kong, since the only legal gambling is in lotteries and horse racing both controlled by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.