All over China, millions of ardent gamblers have to play cat and mouse with the police first before accessing any betting forum. The main legislation governing the industry is Article 303 under the republic’s Criminal Law (amended in 1997) jointly with the 6th Amendment to China’s wider Criminal Law, which expressly prohibits most gambling forms and imposes tough penalties on culprits. China actually permits lotteries – but again, only those approved by the government meaning that officially, the gaming hungry Chinese can only quench their thirst on the state-run gaming platforms.
The licensing and control is by the all-powerful State Council while the republic’s Ministry of Finance controls the lottery industry.
Gambling in China has a Long Restrictive History
Chinese police under the Public Security Department has always organized numerous simultaneous raids on gambling “dens” as they act to rein in on what they call “online gambling crimes”and “gangs”.
These attacks best epitomize the harshness with which the Asian giant treats its massive gaming community.
But it has almost been always like this:
Even as far back as when Xia and Shang dynasties (1900-1027 B.C.) were flourishing, rulers were convinced that gambling would introduce major social issues if it became an obsession. Hence, they put gambling under very tough regulatory bans with the embargos becoming the most common feature throughout most of the country’s lengthy gambling history.
Nevertheless, though it has been very rare, Chinese betting enthusiasts have had some periods when the bans have been lifted – giving the perfect playground – albeit briefly, to test their luck and recover some of their losses. The World War II period of between 1930-1940 is one such time when Chinese players had lots of fun and fortune playing legally after the Japanese lifted bans on the practice in hotspots such as Shanghai.
The Current State of Gambling in China
The state’s dogged resistance hasn’t prevented the industry from thriving First, there are 2 government-run lotteries: the CSL (China Sports Lottery) and the CSL (China Welfare Lottery).
Funny enough, the state does not officially consider these lotteries as types of gambling.
Subsequently, the two are currently undergoing a state-funded expansion spree with the state hoping that this will help their push to run illegal online gambling sites out of town.
And then we have the prolific underground gaming including unofficial lotteries, secretive casinos, cards, and other famous games including mahjong. Online gambling has also registered phenomenal growth and is the other new favorite outlet for gamblers in the country.
So big is the underworld- the turnover is estimated to be over 1 trillion Yuan- that the government sometimes seems unsure about what to do with it. The difficulty facing the state’s continued efforts is compounded by the fact that the country’s own special administrative zones of Hong Kong and Macau permit various casinos.
In Macau alone, casinos are reportedly generating tens of billions of U.S. dollars every year with a significant percentage of this money predicted to be coming from the Chinese. Also, traditionally, the people of China have viewed gambling as the great for socializing and entertainment further complicating the government’s efforts.
China has recognized the potential of Betting
The mainland recognizes the potential of gaming to the economy.
In 2014, the State Council foretasted that China’s gaming economy can fetch as much as 5 trillion Yuan annually by 2025.
Perhaps this is why China has been trying to get ways of establishing casinos legally in the mainland although it has been so far unsuccessful. Despite the lack of results, different provinces are seemingly excited by the idea of creating a supportive environment for gamers. For example, officials from the Hainan region had previously expressed their interest in allowing their region to be used as the testing ground for the Chinese gambling industry.
Billionaires have been Eyeing Chinese gaming industry
Various multi-billionaires-led by Jack Ma (Alibaba) and Wang Jianlin (Wanda)- have already invested in the Chinese sporting industry confirming its inherent allure. Concerns over the controls have, apparently, done little to dissuade the big shots from getting involved in the aftermath of the State Council’s predictions.
In addition, sport betting websites have been winning more fans partly due to China’s super league club’s unprecedented spending on global soccer superstars. SportsBetting.Ag is one such site and though presented in English, it provides a Chinese language translation button making it easier for the gamers.
The site also offers games in almost all the famous sports including soccer.
But the state is very firm on online betting
In the recent months, online poker applications had taken the Chinese market by storm and the regulators haven’t been amused. And so the axe finally fell in June when the government announced a nationwide ban on all internet poker apps. App stores were ordered to eliminate all poker related apps and their supporting utilities to avoid further downloads.
At the same time, poker advertisements via all the popular social media channels including Wechat and Weibo became outlawed. A similar order had been made last year when Apple was ordered to pull down all VPN apps from its App Store.
This had been ostensibly targeted at making it life difficult for online gamblers who were using the apps to navigate IP restrictions on internet betting casinos. Almost simultaneously, police forays targeting online crypto sites offering Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ether have slowly become prevalent. And as expected, these decisions have been met with an outpouring of outrage among the gamers though the authorities are unlikely to be swayed.
The Bictoin Is Also Trending On Dangerous Ground
Just like internet betting, China isn’t in love with cryptos and has imposed an Implicit ban on the Bitcoin and all other virtual currencies. The regulation, issued by the PBOC (People’s bank of China or Central bank) prohibits financial firms from holding or trading in cryptocurrencies. The PBOC had in fact ordered all the commercial banks and payment firms to close their bitcoin trading accounts way back in 2014 and has been following up to ensure that the ban is observed . More bad news hit the crypto traders in 2018 with the PPBOC announcing that they will now be coming down hard on the previously untouched but discreet bitcoin mining operations.
Officially, China has for long been suspicious of gambling and has enacted legislation to ward off gamblers from indulging in their favorite games. In spite of the tough laws as passed by the National People’s Congress, millions of players have continued to access various betting platforms covertly. This has led to the emergence of a booming undercover gambling industry which has been going from strength to strength even as crackdowns increase.
Furthermore, online bitcoin sites are another escape avenue used by the people of China and has been registering impressive numbers recently And so even though only government-sponsored lottery companies are legal, China is very much in the picture in the global gaming scene. In the end, it seems it will take much more than laws to divorce the Chinese from their love of gambling!