Hero Mobile Countries China

China online sports betting laws

There are now many forms of legal betting in mainland China, including sports betting, lottery, and virtual terminal games that function similar to slot machines, all combining for to generate profits in the billions. If we also include Hong Kong and Macau, on a gambling by country basis, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ranks number one in overall gambling revenue.

Gambling laws in China

The law that makes non-approved forms of gambling a crime in mainland is Article 303 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. This law states: Whoever, for the purpose of profit, gathers people to engage in gambling, runs a gambling house or makes gambling his profession shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention or public surveillance and shall also be fined.

You might notice this law is vague and does not make casual gambling a crime. It is still often treated as a crime due to old policy dating back to Mao’s day.

Since 1957, we have had a program called re-education through labour to punish minor offenses of gambling, petty theft, fraud, fighting, prostitution, soliciting and illegal drug use. It is a special committee under police authority that does the sentencing. While it is possible to demand a defense attorney, seek repeal, or even litigation against the committee, success in fighting sentences is not common.

The actual practice of Chinese authorities is to simply fine casual gamblers. These authorities do use the media to report hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions) of annual gambling arrests. Understand this is sensationalized reporting designed to scare people into believing casual gamblers are often detained, which is not the case.

In 2012 there were an estimated 347,000 citizens prosecuted for gambling offenses. This same year the government claimed success in closing down over 30,000 illegal casinos and breaking up over 10,000 gangs responsible for running these casinos and illegal bookmaking operations. There were also many arrests involving junket operators, web-cam casinos, promoters, agents and banks. This is where the bulk of those prosecutions came from. Of the 347,000 prosecuted, only 5,700 people were sentenced to detention. More than 80% of those sentences were for 15 or less months.

It is important to note that what is done in practice, and what is said, are sometimes two different things. The police authorities claim they are not focused on casual gambling (for example: friends betting mah-jong is not a focus) but there are more than 430 committees for sentencing and each ranking police official has much control in who is arrested and then sentenced. This means it is possible to be arrested and sentenced for casual gambling, it is just extremely rare this happens. The penalty for casual gambling is generally a fine not exceeding 3,000 yuan.

There is no difference in the level of crime between players betting with illegal land-based casinos or betting with foreign gambling websites. While the government is very active in blocking access to these websites, there are ways to use them and it is very rare to hear of any players arrested.

History of gambling in China

First instances of gambling
Early gambling laws
European imperialism in China
Early Chinese lottery
Rigged games
Republic of China
People’s Republic of China

Sports betting and lottery in China

Lottery companies
Chinese lottery culture
Number game lotteries
Instant lottery – scratch cards
Video Lottery Terminal (VLT)

Online betting options in China

Online gambling
Online betting vs. China lotteries
Sports betting