Real money casino sites in China

China has a strict stance against most forms of gambling, with a majority of gambling activities prohibited. This article looks at China’s gambling laws and whether real money online gambling is legal in China.

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Overview of China’s gambling laws

Gambling laws in China are governed by the wording of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. The most prominent piece of this legislation comes under Article 303, which states that anyone who gathers people to engage in gambling for the purpose of profit, runs a gambling house or makes gambling their profession “shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention or public surveillance and shall also be fined.”

In short, gambling in China is a big no-no and serious penalties apply for anyone who runs a gambling operation or participates in illegal gambling activities.

Interestingly, China does not consider playing the lottery a form of gambling, and Chinese residents are free to participate in the two state-run lotto draws, China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery.

Despite the strict laws against gambling, China is known to have a thriving underground gambling industry, with many Chinese nationals illegally placing bets on unofficial lotteries, atmakeshift casinos, on the popular game mah-jong and many other card games. Busts are common, and anyone found gambling in China runs the risk of arrest or hefty fines.

Is online gambling legal in China?

No – online gambling, like most other forms of gambling, is illegal in China. Despite the strict laws against online gambling, there have been many Chinese operators who have tried to offer underground online gambling services to Chinese players, although raids by police and major busts of illicit gambling rings are common.

Online casinos and betting services operating from within China have also been known to cease operations unexpectedly due to tip-offs about upcoming raids, taking with them any money entrusted by Chinese gamblers. Due to the illicit nature of these operations, the lack of accountability and the level of danger imposed, Chinese-run online gambling services should be avoided at all costs.

Some offshore casino sites operating outside of China’s jurisdiction continue to ignore China’s gambling laws and offer gambling services to Chinese nationals, but it is important to note any vendor who services the Chinese market is doing so illegally. Any Chinese player who chooses to play at these casino sites is breaking the law and faces penalties if authorities find them gambling online.

What about gambling in Macau?

Macau may be a special administrative region of China, but its gambling laws couldn’t be more different. Macau is one of the world’s major gambling destinations, second only to Las Vegas, although the region now rivals Nevada for total annual gambling revenue. Macau boasts some of the biggest and most famous land based casinos in the world, attracting high rollers from the Chinese mainland and other Asian countries, while acting as a major tourist attraction for visitors to the region.

If you live in China and want to spend a night laying down bets on the baccarat tables and throwing coins into slot machines where it is entirely legal to do so, Macau is the destination for you. Read more about Macau’s gambling industry and online gambling laws here.

How are China’s gambling laws enforced?

Chinese authorities are not screwing around when it comes to enforcing gambling laws, taking a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of illegal gambling in the country. Raids are common, and anti-corruption crackdowns have resulted in multiple arrests, including the arrests of foreign nationals who come to China to advertise overseas gambling services, like the Crown Casino staff who were arrested in 2016.

To curb online gambling, the Chinese government has put blocks on foreign casino websites, making offshore casinos off-limits to Chinese players, although many Internet-savvy users get around these blocks with the help of a VPN service (virtual private network).

To further enforce online gambling bans, most Chinese banks put a block on any payments made to online gambling venues, making it impossible for Chinese gamblers to facilitate a real money transaction.

The future of online gambling in China

Given China’s strict stance against gambling, it’s unlikely the laws will change any time soon. Tough crackdowns on corruption, junket operators and money laundering services prove the country is committed to keeping gambling away from Chinese citizens, although Chinese officials could be inspired by Japan after the country passed new laws in 2017 to allow integrated casino resorts to operate for the very first time.

The rise of cryptocurrency methods like Bitcoin is also having an impact on the online gambling industry, especially in countries like China where online betting is forbidden. Using Bitcoin, gamblers are able to bypass traditional banks and financial institutions to fund online casino accounts anonymously, creating a loophole against China’s payment blocks. Only time will tell whether the Chinese government finds a way to prohibit Bitcoin payments, but for now it remains against the law for any resident of China to gamble for real money on the Internet.

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