Gambling in China

Gambling in China is officially illegal under Chinese law.[1] In practice, however, Chinese people can participate in state-run lotteries and engage in legal gambling in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, whose legal systems resemble those of European countries which formerly administered those regions (the United Kingdom and Portugal, respectively).

Mainland China

The Chinese government operates two lotteries: the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery. The Chinese government does not legally consider the lotteries a form of gambling.[2] Illegal gambling in China remains common, including unofficial lotteries, clandestine casinos, and betting in games such as mahjong and various card games. In 2010, The Daily Telegraph (UK) reported that an estimated one trillion yuan are wagered in illegal gambling every year in China. Problem gambling exists in the country, and may be more prevalent than in countries with legalized gambling.[1] Online gambling is another outlet for illegal gambling in the country.[2]

Various attempts have been made to establish legal casinos in mainland China, although these have been unsuccessful. Officials from the province of Hainan have expressed interest in doing so, and in 2010, the national State Council approved, in principle, the idea of Hainan as a "testing ground for China's lottery and gambling industry."[3]

In June 2018, the Chinese Government banned all online poker application. App stores had to remove all poker related applications, and the promotion of poker in general via all social media channels in China (Wechat, Weibo) became forbidden[4].This decision has been considered to be the Chinese equivalent of the 2011 American Black Friday.

Hong Kong

While some aspects of mainland Chinese law apply in Hong Kong, certain forms of gambling are legal and regulated in Hong Kong. The Law of Hong Kong is based on English common law, Hong Kong having been a British territory until 1997. Gambling in Hong Kong has been regulated since 1977.[5] The Hong Kong Jockey Club organizes much of the legal betting in the region.


Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s, when it was a Portuguese colony. The region has a history of gambling on traditional Chinese games. Gambling in Macau now primarily takes place in Western-style casinos; in 2007, Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip in gaming revenues. As of 2016,[6] 38 casinos operate in Macau, and the region's annual gambling revenues exceed US$27.9 billion.[7]

See also


  1. 1 2 Eimer, David (9 January 2010). "China's secret gambling problem". Daily Telegraph. Shenyang. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 Kalenyuk, Mary (7 November 2013). "The bets are on for gambling in China". The World of Chinese. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. Fish, Isaac Stone (10 September 2013). "China's gambling addiction could prove tempting to Beijing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  4. "Crackdown on online poker applications in China - Somuchpoker". Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  5. Deans, Rob (2001). "Online Gambling: Changes to Hong Kong's Gambling Legislation". Gaming Law Review. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 5 (6): 555–560. doi:10.1089/109218801753336166. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  6. 2016 Wynn 10-K
  7. "Macau Gaming Summary". University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
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