Mainland China is strictly anti-gambling. Both online and
offline wagering are illegal with both punishable by fines and
imprisonment. This goes for both operators and patrons. The
country even attempts to block citizens’ access to online
casinos via the
Great Firewall of China.
Of course, the Chinese people don’t always pay attention to
the latest decrees that come down from on high. The online
gambling market in China is massive despite the government’s
attempts to protect people from themselves. Bet365.com, Bodog
Asia and other websites welcome Chinese players with open arms.
We won’t even try to tell you whether or not it’s safe or
legal to place internet bets while inside China, because we
honestly don’t know enough about the market to give you a
definitive answer. Chinese law is strange and the country is
home to a huge population. As ForeignPolicy.com put it, China is
a place “where no vice is legal, but every vice is tolerated.”
The closest thing mainland China has to gambling is the
national lottery. The lottery is available across the nation and
brings in nearly as much revenue as the US lottery, but tickets
cannot be purchased online.
Special Administrative Regions
Hong Kong and Macau are both considered “special
administrative regions” in which China administers each region’s
defense and foreign affairs but leaves each region in control
over its own domestic laws, police, and economy. Hong Kong and
Macau each allow certain forms of gambling.
Neither one of these regions has any system in place to
monitor, regulate, or even allow online gaming sites to go live.
The law neither prohibits nor permits online gambling; it simply
doesn’t address the issue. Potential operators have no avenue
to even attempt to acquire an online gambling license.
Therefore, online gambling is mostly dead in China. There are
a couple of exceptions for internet sports betting, but there’s
nothing in place for casino gambling or poker. The rest of this
section will address offline gambling only.
Certain forms of gambling are legal in Hong Kong as long as
they are managed by the government-sponsored Hong Kong Jockey
Club (HKJC). The HKJC is a government-sponsored non-profit
corporation that manages the only legal forms of gambling in
Residents are free to place bets via the HKJC, but all other
forms of gambling are outlawed in Hong Kong. The allowed forms
of gambling under the HKJC include parimutuel horse race
betting, overseas soccer betting and the Mark Six lottery. There
are about a hundred locations residents can visit to get in on
Not only is it illegal to run an unauthorized bookmaking
operation in Hong Kong, but it’s also illegal for visitors and
residents to place bets with unauthorized bookmakers, even if
those bookmakers are located outside Hong Kong. The penalties
for doing business with illegal or overseas bookmakers include 9
months in prison and a $30,000 fine.
Macau is significantly more gambling-friendly than the rest
of China. In fact, Macau surpassed Las Vegas for gaming revenues
in 2007. Macau is by far the largest gambling destination in the
world. In 2013, Macau’s gambling industry brought in more than
$45 billion in revenue.
The forms of legal gambling in Macau include traditional
casino-style games, poker, and limited forms of horse racing.
These forms are all offered offline only with the exception of
local internet betting options for some casinos. Macau doesn’t
address, license, or even acknowledge online gambling. As such,
there are no legitimate gambling sites based out of Macau.
All gambling activities in Macau fall under the jurisdiction
of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). The
organization is responsible for legislating, enforcing and
overseeing the entire gambling industry.
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