China to support horse racing and sports Lotteries


China will encourage horse racing and expand sports lotteries as part of efforts to turn its southernmost province of Hainan into a pilot area for expanded opening-up policies.

Despite speculation that the new policy might pave the way for casinos, Chinese analysts said that it was unlikely China would legalize gambling on the island.

The government will develop the sports lottery and instant lottery for major international sporting events in the province, according to a guideline published on the national government website on Saturday.

Some overseas media reported that China might give the nod to the development of gambling in Hainan.

A report from Bloomberg in February noted that China was considering “legal gambling” in Hainan, adding that over the long term the government might even “open the door to physical casinos” on top of its other tourism attractions.

Developing sports lotteries does not mean China will later relax its ban on gambling, said Li Hai, director of the Sport Lottery Research Center.

“I think with the government’s clear ban on the gambling industry, the chances are very small that China will allow casinos in Hainan in the near future,” Li said.

“But sports lotteries have been operating in China since around 2001 and the government is also pushing the industry in recent years with the hope of developing more sports lotteries for domestic matches,” he told the Global Times on Sunday.

Li also predicted that further horse-racing lotteries in Hainan are also possible, as China already tried opening the sector in South China’s Guangdong Province in the mid-1990s.

“Developing horse-racing can be a stimulus for tourism, just like the situation in Hong Kong, but such a long industrial chain needs a transparent and just management environment, which the government should work at,” Li said.