Online gambling is prohibited in China with the exception of the Welfare Lottery and the Sports Lottery. The China Welfare Lottery Issuance Center (CWLC) is regulated by the Ministry of Civil Affairs while the China Sports Lottery Administration Center (CSAC) is regulated by the General Administration of Sports. The potential revenue to be earned from a wider range of online gambling is in the billions within the Chinese market not to mention the number of casino games that have derived from the region, so you’ve got to wonder why it’s banned.
China has given the world Keno, Pai Gow and Mah Jong but under the current regulations gambling is restricted both online and off.
Macau and Hong Kong
Macau and Hong Kong are classified as Special Administrative Regions; however Chinese visitors are required obtain visas to enter these regions. These locations are governed by different laws than the rest of China with casino gambling allowed in Macau and horse racing available in Hong Kong.
The Chinese government does not have legislation in place for the Macau industry but it is more difficult for Chinese citizens receive visas for Macau. The gambling business in Macau is much bigger than it is in Las Vegas. In fact, the daily revenue in Macau is nearly equal to the monthly revenue in Sin City.
China has busted many illegal online gambling operations. The government does not prohibit the average Friday night poker game; however running a gambling establishment for profit will inevitably be shut down and result in serious jail time.
Is there a future for online gambling in China?
In 2005, the government published judicial interpretations of article 303 of its criminal law. The law stated: “Whoever, for the purpose of reaping profits, assembles a crowd to engage in gambling, opens a gambling house or makes an occupation of gambling is to be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention or control, in addition to a fine”.
The following was added: “Whoever, for the purpose of reaping profits, sets up gambling websites on the internet or acts as an online gambling agent will be regarded as ‘opening gambling houses’ and will be punished according to article 303 of the criminal law”.
Operators have defended the gambling services made available to Chinese punters based on the premise that there are no laws against operators located outside of China providing remote gambling services yet Chinese gamblers are in violation of the law each time they access such services.
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