China Won’t Allow Gambling or Horse Racing on Hainan

China Won’t Allow Gambling or Horse Racing on Hainan

China and gambling have an interesting history. There is a long history of Chinese playing card games and tile games. They were very popular and betting on those games was commonplace.

Today, the country has thousands of illegal gambling dens and online gaming sites. There are very few places where Chinese citizens can gamble legally. For a time, it appeared that China was going to allow gambling on Hainan. An island near China’s southernmost point, Hainan is a tourist destination for many people in Asia. It has a tropical climate and beautiful beaches. Some people hoped the Chinese government would allow gambling on the island. However, recently, it declared that it would not allow gambling or horse racing.

China and Gambling

China and GamblingGambling has been a part of the Chinese culture for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Gambling had a place in China for many years. However, after World War II, the communists took over and outlawed it. Currently, the only form of gaming that is legal in mainland China is the lottery. There are two lotteries that are legal. One of the lotteries is the China Sports Lottery and the other is the China Welfare Lottery. Revenue from the China Sports Lottery goes toward the maintenance of sports facilities and training for athletes. These athletes who are training for the Olympics. The government pays for all their costs and training. The Social Welfare Lottery is to help seniors with health-care expenses and housing.

With all gambling banned in the country, illegal gambling is rampant. Researchers estimate that Chinese gamblers wager more than $143 billion each year illegally. Most of the money is spent on card games, such as pai gow poker, and tile games, such as mahjong. Many Chinese also were playing online poker games and betting on them until June 2018. That month, the Chinese government banned online poker applications. The government banned the applications regardless of whether they used money for betting and prizes or only paid in prizes.

Where is Gambling Permitted?

Currently, China permits gambling in two locations. Both are off the mainland and both are former colonies of other nations. Hong Kong, which was a British territory until 1997, allows gambling. Much of the gambling in Hong Kong takes place at horse races through the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The other area where the Chinese government allows gambling is in Macau, which is a peninsula. Macau, which had been a Portuguese territory until 1999, has had legalized casino gambling since the 1850s. Macau, home to 38 casinos, is now the richest gambling location in the world. It has yearly revenue that is six times that of Las Vegas.

Hainan Island

The Chinese government granted Hainan free-trade zone status. It also gave the island freer access to foreign investment in everything from agriculture to medical services. The government hopes this additional investment will turn the attention away from the fact there isn’t any gambling. Many businesses remember the government’s promise to allow sportsbooks or a lottery. It also said there was a possibility a company could build a casino resort on the island.

Reports earlier in the year stated the Chinese government hoped to attract more foreign investment to the island. It hoped to do this by allowing some form of gambling, such as horse racing or casinos. Economists considered the potential for gaming on the island to be a bigger attraction than Macau. Hainan is attractive because of its proximity to nations in Southeast Asia that do not allow gambling for religious reasons. However, it appears that investors who wanted to make Hainan the next Macau will have to wait a bit longer.

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