Despite being illegal, gambling is very popular in China. Many people participate in illegal gambling in underground casinos and unofficial lotteries and on hundreds of websites. Additionally, gambling is legal in the territory of Macau, where the gambling industry generates over 40% of the GDP.
Gambling, whether online or off-line, is illegal under current Chinese law. It has been outlawed since the Communist Party took power in 1949. There are two officially sanctioned lotteries, but they cannot be played online as a result of many scam websites that popped up attempting to sell fake lottery tickets.
An estimated $1. 3 billion is wagered illegally in China each year. This figure is especially incredible considering more than half of China’s 1. 3 billion population lives in rural areas with an average annual income of 4, 700 yaun (about $615).
Online soccer wagering is the most popular form of illegal gambling. Soccer pools started during the 2002 World Cup and peaked during the 2006 World Cup. They took in around $13 billion during the 2006 World Cup.
A majority of casino gambling takes place in Macau. Macau is one of two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China (the other being Hong Kong). It maintains its own legal system, and as a result, gambling has been legal since the 1850s. There are 28 casinos in Macau, all operating under a common set of rules.
Although Chinese authorities regard gambling as a serious social evil, it appears that society as a whole is much more accepting of it. With rising incomes, this is a trend unlikely to stop any time soon, and so it is possible that the Chinese government could loosen gambling legislation in the coming years.