China Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in China

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in China
  • Gambling authorities in China
  • Online casinos in China
  • and more

Flag of ChinaWhen it comes to gambling, China has a long history. It is known as the country where some of the most popular games such as Pai Gow and Keno originate from. Since the Communist Party took control of the country in 1949, gambling has been illegal, but the gambling market of the country currently produces about $4 billion on an annual basis.

Up to date, the only legal forms of gambling in China are the two government lotteries – the Sports Lottery and the Welfare Lottery. The rest of the gambling operations are officially proclaimed as illegal under the country’s laws. Legal gambling operations are currently offered only in the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, which legal systems resemble the ones of the European countries that administered them in the past.

History of Gambling Regulation in China

The gambling policy of China was developed over a long period of time. According to Chinese history, such games were played thousands of years before the Han era (206 BCE-220 CE). Some of the oldest versions proved to have existed in China date to fourth-century BCE.

Early Gambling Laws

Gambling is considered to have existed well before the Quing Dynasty (221-206 BCE). Sports betting was also one of the most popular early forms of gambling activities in the country, especially considering the fact that was the time when one of the earliest forms of football (soccer) was created.

There are also early proofs of laws prohibiting gambling that date back to the Wei Kingdom (403-225 BCE). Over the period the gambling activities proclaimed out of law were imposed monetary fines. Over the time of the Tang Dynasty, gambling is considered to have reached the entire society.

In addition, sports were probably the most popular type of gambling activities, along with tile, dice and card games. The penalties for illegal gambling activities started as monetary fines, but later included military service, too. Gambling penalties for military or officials were even more severe.

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Even more severe penalties were imposed with the beginning of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), which led to a great drop in the popularity of gambling activities. This changed over the 16th century at the time of the European Imperialism in Asia.

European Imperialism Period in China

After the Portuguese started using Macau as permanent trading base in the middle of the 16th century, the territory was practically put under its rule which is why there were not any laws to stop gambling in the region. This is exactly the reason why gambling really flourished over the period.

In 19th century, legalized forms of gambling officially came to China, which is believed to be due to the fact that late Qing Dynasty was considered highly incompetent as well as to the need for gathering enough money for war funds. Hong Kong also turned into a gambling centre after England became autonomous of Hong Kong in 1842, which lasted until 1997.

Up to date, both Macau and Hong Kong are administrative regions of China. They are granted with a special statute and have their won governments, laws, currency and even passports.


Gambling Legislation in ChinaAs mentioned above, gambling is officially illegal in China. All forms of gambling apart from the lotteries have been banned in the country since 1949. The punishments imposed on everyone who breaks the law is severe and includes fines and imprisonment.

Two lotteries operate in Mainland China – the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery.

The China Sports Lottery Administration Center is currently regulated by the General Administration of Sports. The State Council authorized it to issue lottery tickets since 1994. On the other hand, the Ministry of Civil Affairs regulates the China Welfare Lottery Issuance Center. The latter was authorized to issue lottery tickets by the state Council in 1987 and has been providing such ever since.

The Chinese lottery market has been flourishing. The industry was estimated to a total of $40 billion in 2012, which ranked it second after the one of the US. The market has expanded quickly since 2007.

Horse races betting has always been popular among the Chinese people. Despite betting on activities has been prohibited, such races are still organized on the territory of China. They were officially legalized in 2008. The Government is currently considering the legalization of betting on horse races, but the process is rather slow.

Administrative Regions with Special Statute

As explained above, when it comes to Macau and Hong Kong, they are both considered Special Administrative Regions of the country. Although they are still part of China, special passport visas are required when entering the region. In addition, the administrative regions gave different forms of government and laws. When it comes to gambling, currently, casino gambling is restricted to Macau, and betting on horse races is restricted to Hong Kong.

The country takes care of the administration of each region’s defence and foreign affairs, but they are still left in control over their own domestic laws, police and economy issues. Certain forms of gambling are allowed in Hong Kong and Macau.

However, neither one of these regions has built a system to permit, monitor or regulate online gaming websites. That is why online gambling is almost dead in the country, no matter that local gambling legislation neither prohibits, nor officially allows online gambling operations.

Hong Kong
As Hong Kong is one of the special administrative regions in China, certain forms of gambling are legal within its territory. They are managed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club – a non-profit corporation which is backed by the Government and manages only legal forms of gambling on the territory of Hong Kong.

The forms of gambling that are permitted under the Hong Hong Jockey Club include parimutuel horse race betting, the Mark Six lottery, as well as overseas soccer betting. Running an unauthorized bookmaking operations in the region is illegal. Betting with such bookmakers is also illegal, and penalties for violators are quite large.

Macau is probably one of the most popular places in the rest of the country. The administrative region has turned into the largest gambling destination in the world over the last few years. The gambling industry there was reported to have brought more than $45 billion in revenue in 2013.

The gambling activities in the region are subjected to the jurisdiction of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – an organization that is responsible for monitoring and control over the entire gambling industry, as well as for legislating and law enforcement in the region.

Legal gambling in Macau comes in different forms, including traditional casino-style games and poker, as well as some limited forms of horse racing. The latter are offered offline except for local online betting options provided in some casinos. Online gambling, however, is not addressed, licensed or acknowledged by the region itself. This is exactly the reason why there are not any legal gambling websites that are based in Macau.

Online Gambling

Internet Gambling in ChinaThe situation with the online gambling operations in China is not quite well-settled. The truth is that no licenses for operating gambling websites based in China are granted by the the country’s Government. Technically, local people are not supposed to wager on foreign gambling websites, too.

The country’s Government has been also putting its efforts into filtering them out over the Internet, but there are thousands of websites accepting Chinese players and it is practically impossible to block them all. There are even some gambling websites that especially catering to Chinese players.

Macau, and China in general, are definitely willing to regulate their Internet gambling market. Considering the fact that local residents gamble online even though such activities are characterized as illegal, regulating the market will be a favorable step for the entire gambling business on the territory of the country. In addition, Chinese economy is experiencing a growth, which results into people tending to spend even more on gambling than they do now.

Macau is the first administrative region in China that is considered to come up with appropriate gambling legislation, and the rest of the country will follow.

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