China has a long history in gambling, and it is, in fact, the origin of some of the most popular games, particularly Keno and Pai Gow. However, gambling became illegal in 1949 when the Communist Party gained control of the country. Despite this, the gambling market still produces up to $4 billion annually for the country.
To this very day, there are only two forms of gambling that are legal in China, and these are the two government lotteries, which are the Welfare Lottery and the Sports Lottery. Every other form of gambling, asides from these two, is illegal, according to the country’s laws. However, it is important to note that certain gambling operators are allowed to operate in China’s special administrative regions, which are Hong Kong and Macau. This is because the legal system in this region is a lot like the system operated by the European countries that administered the regions in the past.
Early Gambling Laws
Gambling has existed in China as far back as 221 BCE, and it is worth mentioning that sports betting was also an early form of gambling throughout the country. It was also during these early days that soccer was created, and this made sports betting even more interesting.
China’s history also shows that there have been laws prohibiting gambling as far back as 403 BCE, during the time of the Wei Kingdom. Gambling had reached every part of the country during the time of the Tang Dynasty, despite the laws that imposed monetary fines on all gambling activities.
In general, sports was the most popular gambling form, and this was alongside other games like card games, dice, and tile. At first, the penalty for gambling was monetary fines, but with time, it included military services, but for military officials, the penalty was more severe. With time, severe other severe penalties were imposed on illegal gambling activities, especially during the Song Dynasty. This also caused a rapid decline in the popularity of the activity until the 16th century during the time of European Imperialism in Asia.
This made it possible for legal forms of gambling to enter China in the 19th century. Between 1842 and 1997, Hong Kong was turned into a gambling center, and this was after England gained control of Hong Kong.
The puzzle of the operations of online gambling in China is yet to be solved. However, the facts remain that the country’s government has yet to grant any gambling website a license to operate in China. Also, it is not expected that local people would use foreign gambling sites to wager on. It is worth noting that the government is putting in enough effort to ensure that these sites are cleared from the internet space. However, there are so many of these websites that accept players from China, and it is almost impossible to block these sites. Some of these sites go as far as catering to Chinese players alone.
It is worth mentioning that both China and Macau are ready to regulate the internet gambling market. This is because a vast majority of local residents in these regions gamble online, even though it is illegal. Also, regulating the internet gambling market will be in favor of gambling businesses within the territory. It is worth mentioning that the Chinese economy is growing at a fast rate, and people are likely to spend more on gambling than they used to.
Macau remains the first region in China to enact gambling legislation, and it is expected that the rest of the country would follow suit in the nearest future.