It’s no secret that living in China can come with its restrictions.
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From limits on family size to restrictions and censorship within Social Media, keeping up can be a struggle, and this is especially true for gambling.
In fact, most forms of gambling have been illegal in China for decades, and until recently, there appeared to be no sign that this could change. However, with rumors that the Chinese government is considering legalizing gambling on the island of Hainan, the conversation around gambling in China is a hot topic once more. Here, we’re exploring what the rules currently are, what they could be, and what this legalization could mean for the country as a whole, so read on to find out!
Gambling In China
Despite the illegalization of gambling in China, the country also happens to be one of the number one countries for gambling revenues – but only when Hong Kong and Macau are included in the count. Gambling in mainland China still remains as strict as you might expect, but with a host of rules and regulations to follow, understanding the ins and outs of gambling across the country is important. The legislation around the following areas of gambling is as follows:
Gambling in casinos is completely illegal in Mainland China, and with no operating casinos, it’s extremely difficult to find yourself caught out by this. In fact, the only casinos that you’ll find within China are illegal, unless you’re planning on boarding the Xiang Xue Lan, a cruise ship in Yantai city. Illegal casinos often don’t last long, and any illicit gambling gatherings or institutions are quickly raided by police and shut down.
Betting on sports within China is a little more complicated than casinos, as it’s not completely illegal. In fact, The Chinese Sports Lottery is the only way in which citizens can bet on sports. This lottery offers pari-mutuel betting, or a form of sports betting where the results for 14 matches will need to be picked at the same time. This currently isn’t available online, but there are plans to expand in the future. However, all other online or land-based sports betting are completely illegal. In Hong Kong, however, sports betting is available in limited forms for those that truly want to get involved. Though to play on the safe side here, you might want to refer to a list of specific betting guides for various Asian countries.
Bitcoin as a currency is legal in China, though this could change in the future. However, Bitcoin casinos certainly aren’t. Operators and players are at risk of being fined, arrested or imprisoned should they be caught gambling with the cryptocurrency, however, it’s no secret to Bitcoin gamblers that Chinese players are often accepted in foreign bitcoin casinos. It’s a popular market in China, as the anonymous nature of Bitcoin allows players to play for longer without being caught.
All kinds of online gambling are illegal in China, though there are online websites that accept players from China regardless. This is a risk that many Chinese gamblers are willing to take, however, it’s important to realize that this doesn’t often come without consequences. You could be prosecuted and fined, and in extreme cases, there’s even the chance of being jailed.
So, What’s Changing?
China’s authorities have recently begun drafting a proposal that would make gambling legal in Hainan, a small island that’s barely the size of Switzerland. This move has been made in an effort to redirect a wealth of gambling potential that is currently all being aimed at Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub in the world. This is a big step for China, but the lengths at which this legalization could change the gambling market within the entirety of Mainland China is certainly something that’s hot in the minds of gambling providers and players across the country and across the world.
There has been talking of allowing online gaming, lottery, and even sports betting within the island’s boundaries, but this new gambling field has the potential to change how gambling is approached and dealt with across all of China – but to what extent?
What Could This Mean?
The gambling legislation currently in place in China can certainly be a headache to understand, but with the new changes coming into play, it’s more important than ever for industry leaders and followers alike to keep on top of the news. The true and final effects that this legalization could have on China is something that won’t be seen until the measures are put into place, however, we are already seeing massive changes within Hainan. For example, to prepare the island for this new gambling market, construction is already underway to improve the new gambling field – literally. The government is investing billions into new highways, railways and are in discussion with brands such as Hilton, St. Regis and Westin to commercialize the area.
This legalization of online gambling in Hainan could soon lead to bricks-and-mortar institutions, and there has even been talking of adjusting and reviewing visas, and even the construction of a new airport to make access to the island much easier – a welcome change for the financially-struggling city.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily having a great effect on gambling that is already available in the likes of Hong Kong and Macau. In fact, Wynn Macau Ltd has dropped 6.7% in casino stocks, and MGM China Holdings Ltd slipped 1.5%. Investors are clearly surprised and left a little uneasy by this sudden change, and the grey area that it could pose for not only Hainan and Macau, but for the entirety of Mainland China and, as a result, the market is becoming unstable.
The final effect that the legislation could have on China certainly won’t be seen until new laws and regulations come into play, but what we can predict is just what to expect in the meantime. With a newly commercialized Hainan slowly taking shape, alongside industry and investor fluctuations, anything could happen in the future and only time will tell.
Also published on Medium.