Current State of Online Gambling Legality in ChinaPublished November 3, 2014 by Mike P
The Chinese gambling market has three different levels of legalisation depending on whether people live on the mainland, Hong Kong, or Macau.
China is a highly complex market when it comes to gambling. Outside of the Chinese mainland, gambling is undertaken to various extents in the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong. While the former is primarily focused on delivering a land-based casino experience, the latter has a growing consumer base with a desire for online casino gaming and sports betting.
Lottery Games Legal on Mainland
Compared to Macau and Hong Kong, Chinese residents living on the mainland have to make do with two types of lottery. However, the presence of two lotteries is more driven by a need for the government to generate revenue than it is satisfy the gambling urges of the mainland’s population.
Slow to Close Access to Offshore Sites
In theory, access to online gambling sites is not permitted for Chinese mainland residents. But, in practise, many residents can access offshore gambling sites, even though they are illegal. The government can’t quite restrict access to all of the possible sites that the Chinese can join.
Relaxed Approach in Hong Kong
Hong Kong residents enjoy a more laid back approach, as they can gamble legally with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which is the only licensed operator in the special administrative region. However, Hong Kong residents access a large proportion of unlicensed gambling sites because the government does not consider dealing with them to be a priority.
Macau the Leading Light
Macau is the leading light of gambling in China, with the former Portuguese colony having first legalised the activity back in 1850. When China eventually reacquired Macau in 1999, a decision was taken to not alter the status of gambling. In turn, this resulted in Macau exploding as a global gambling destination. Nowadays, Macau generates in excess of $45 billion a year. The only prospect for wider legalisation of online gambling is if China decides it needs more money to cover its costs.