Taiwan online sports betting laws
Online betting in Taiwan is very popular, as is the Taiwanese tradition of gambling Mahjong. Many people also enjoy sports betting, wagering Chinese chess and playing real money poker. For casino, trips for the purpose of gambling in Macau are routine, while approved lotteries and the country's sports lottery are both in well-liked.
As covered in my article on Chinese Mainland Gambling Laws, the gambling laws of Taiwan are the same as the KMT government created in 1928 while still ruling mainland China. Compared to gambling laws worldwide, the laws here are very easy to understand. Chapter 21 of the Taiwan Criminal Code has only five short articles (266-270) that cover the penalties for unlawful gambling. The fines are all in Chinese yaun and at the time of this article 1 yuan is 4.62 Taiwan New Dollars (TWD).
The penalty for social gambling in public is a fine up to 1000 yuan and any cash found at the premises is confiscated by the police. The law does state that gambling on social occasion is okay. This has been interpreted to mean social wagers between friends conducted on rare occasion. If you are hosting gambling games in your home, or wagering for high stakes, you can be charged under Article 268 which is a fine of 3000 yuan and up to 3-years in prison.
The penalty for gambling as a source of profession (as a player) is up to 2-years in prison. The penalties for involvement in illegal lottery are even stricter. For agents this is 6-months in prison. For those running a lottery competing with the legal Taiwan lottery there is no maximum prison sentence, meaning the court can sentence for as long as they would like and as they see fit.
Legal gambling existed in China at various times in history. As far as Taiwan laws are concerned, Japanese gambling laws came into effect here when in June of 1906 the Governor-General approved Decree No. 7 (The Issuance of Lottery Tickets). As a reminder Taiwan was occupied by Japan from 1895-1945. This lottery they brought was to fiancé various charities and temples. These cost ¥0.50 apiece and first prize was ¥50,000 (this was about 165 times the annual salary of a teacher).
After World War II, our Nationalist government issued the Patriotic Bond Statute. This created a legal lottery for the purpose of encouraging nationalism, balancing the budget and stabilizing the monetary system. The tickets all had anti-communist slogans on them. The first draw was held on 11 April 1950 and tickets costs NT$15 each for a chance at the NT$200,000 prize.
In 1950, rice cost $0.50 per kilo. The price per ticket was too expensive and sales for the first draw were small. For the second draw on, the price was lowered to NT$5 and the prize remained the same. In 1971 the price was raised to NT$10 per ticket. After 1,169 draws the Patriot Lottery was suspended in 1987, the same year Martial law was repealed. This sent us into a period where no gambling was legal in Taiwan except the Uniform Invoice Lottery.
Effective 1 January 1951, the Kuomingtang (KMT) government created the Uniform Invoice Lottery to boost tax revenues. This encouraged those shopping at stores with monthly turnover of NT$200,000 (USD $6,200) and above to obtain a receipt. These receipts are used in a lottery draw and this ensures the government has sales records for each business. In its first year the invoice-lottery increased tax revenue by 75%.
Still running today the Uniform Invoice Lottery is the oldest lottery in Taiwan. Today, it is managed by the Ministry of Finance and draws are held on the 25th day of all odd numbered months. 3% of taxes collected finance this and there are multiple prizes to be won. There are 4 sets of numbers drawn (0-9 per slot with 8 slots). One is called the special draw where exact match of all 8 numbers wins 10 million Taiwan New Dollars ($342,000 US). The others award NT$200,000 for getting all correct. One of these numbers is used for awarding smaller prizes. Last 7 correct pays NT$40,000, Last 6: NT$10,000, Last 5: NT$4,000, Last 4: NT$1,000 and last 3: NT$200.
This exciting lottery generates much discussion on Taiwanese forums and facebook. Television shows and entertainment are built around each draw. In case you miss a draw, official results are published online.
After the Patriot Bond Lottery was suspended in 1987, illegal lottery became rampant. Even with a legal replacement available, many Taiwanese still call their bookies to bet on legal Hong Kong gambling such as the Mark Six lotto. In an attempt to gain control over illegal gambling we began allowing local governments to run their own lotteries. On 5 June 1995 the government issued the Public Welfare Lottery Issue Act to regulate it. This has been amended many times and that link is to the current copy.
In 2002, the government took back control of the lottery awarding its contract to Taipei Bank (since renamed Fubon Bank). This contract expired and effective January 1, 2007 Chinatrust Commercial Bank (CTBC) took over. They run all forms of lottery in Taiwan except the Uniform Invoice Lottery already mentioned and the Taiwan Sports Lottery, mentioned next in this article.
The legal lotteries operating here are many. Super Lotto (威力彩) drawn Monday and Thursday and Lotto 6/49 (6/49大樂透 ) drawn Tuesdays and Fridays are our richest lotteries. We also have daily numbers, keno, scratch cards, a game similar to tic-tac-toe, traditional Chinese lotto and more. To learn about this refer to my article How to Play Taiwan Lottery. This covers all the details of every game offered by our lottery company.
Taiwan Sports lottery launched in May 2008 and is the only source for legally betting sports in Taiwan. There are locations on virtually every corner of populated cities, as well as terminals and online betting via BetIWin.
The major leagues covered are MLB baseball and NBA basketball from the United States and the major European football (soccer) leagues. It is also possible to bet Asian baseball and on occasion tennis, golf, and the Olympics have been offered.
The legal basis for Taiwan Sports Lottery is the Sports Lottery Issuance Act. Taipei Fubon Bank was awarded contract to be the exclusive operator of this lottery until July 31, 2014. In their first four years of operation they lost NT$4.7 billion (US$161.8 million) and did not bid to renew their contract.
A major reason for the losses is the contract to operate. This required achieving 80% of the sales volume the regulators had predicted at the onset. Failure to meet this meant the operator had to cover the difference in tax and charitable contributions. After sales came in at only 56% of projections, Fubon sought relief with the tax authority and in court. They were unsuccessful after many appeals. Details of the contract and results are discussed in the Fubon Financial Holdings 2012 Annual Report.
The reason for low sales largely relates to how the sports lottery works. There are multiple games each with unique wagering options. Some games are pari-mutuel based. For example in Da San Yuan bettors pick the result of three baseball matches and part of the pool goes to all correct and part goes to those with two winners. In Da Si Xi four soccer matches are bet and the pool goes to those with all correct. For this form of betting, only 75% of sales go into the pool.
When it comes to fixed odd betting the odds are very poor. At best, you can find basketball handicaps at European odds 1.77 (-130 American) per side. This gives the lottery a theoretic hold of 11.5% per bet. For NBA basketball these must be wagered in 6-fold accumulators (6-team parlays) or greater. With a 6-teamer on the handicap the true chances of winning are 1 in 64. The sports lottery pays only 29.67 to 1.
The challenge with these odds mentioned is well before sports lottery existed illegal betting was very popular in Taiwan. Reputable companies from the United Kingdom such as www.bet365.com support Taiwanese language and currency. Though this is violation of Taiwanese law, they are not in Taiwan and are legal and licensed in Europe. Simply put our authorities have no jurisdiction over them. There are also many illegal bookies here too. Due to better odds the same 6-team wager on NBA handicaps pays 47.41 to 1 at Bet365 as compared to 29.67 to 1 at Taiwan Sports Lottery. The fact sports lottery is legal has not been enough of a sell to get those already betting online and with bookies to make the switch.
Though the competition from illegal bookies is most to blame, not helping sales is the fact there was a major Taiwan Sports Lottery scandal in 2011. An employee was able to open the system after match results were known and place winning bets. For pari-mutuel betting this lowered the dividends paid to legitimate winners. Fubon took major financial and PR hits while operating this lottery and their share prices have declined.
The good news is much reform is likely on the way. Players affected by the scam have been paid, the perpetrators placed in prison, and new harsher laws have been passed to increase the penalty should this occur again. Also, a very experienced company is taking over in 2014.
Effective August 1, 2014 (if not sooner) the Taiwan Sports Lottery exclusive contract (this time 10-years) changes hands. It has been awarded to the Taiwanese manufacturer of DRAM modules and flash-memory products Adata Technology Co. They will operate it in partnership with successful Greek lottery company Intralot and Chinatrust Commercial Bank (CTCB) who runs our legal non-sports lottery games. This group is vowing to turn the sports lottery profitable. To do so they will need to attract more sales which should mean government lobby leading to better wagering options for players in the coming years.
Taiwan has never had any legal casinos but this could change. Back in January 2009 the Offshore Islands Development Act was amended. Article 10 added a provision where our offshore Islands can legalise casino gambling to increase tourism. To do so a local referendum must be passed.
After numerous failures with locals voting no, in July 2012 Matsu finally approved a casino with a 57% yes vote. The government has been very slow in drafting the legislation and it is not expected any progress will be made until summer 2013. After this a casino resort will take some time to build so it could be a while.
For now the only easy legal option is travel. There are many forms legal gambling in Macau including casinos. Taiwanese passport holders are stamped in for 30-days with no visa required.
One of the biggest challenges to getting started with internet betting is finding a method that works for deposits. While you can attempt to use your Taiwan debit or credit card most often this will be declined. The best way to get around this is to open an EntroPay account.
How to Use EntroPay
Entropay you can create a free account and are given a free virtual VISA card. To put money on this card you need to enter your Taiwan debit card or credit card number, the amount you want to purchase, and complete the simple Verified by VISA or MasterCard Secure Code verification process. This last step says optional but if you skip it your card will be declined. EntroPay will charge your card and add 95% of the amount charged to this virtual VISA card (the other 5% is their fee). You can then select EntroPay from the online cashier of any gambling website and use your virtual VISA to make a deposit.
It also possible to purchase a USD or EUR currency EntroPay plastic prepaid MasterCard for a low cost that will be mailed to your home. When you win at Bet365 you can cash out to EntroPay, move money to this card and withdrawal at any ATM in Taiwan. The ATM will give you Taiwan currency (TWD/NTD) and you will be debited the USD or EUR amount from your plastic card balance. At other sites such as Bodog88 you can get paid with a direct bank transfer.
How to Use Skrill
Skrill is a service that works similar to an online bank account. You can load it using debit card or bank transfer. The money in your Skrill account can be transferred to gambling sites, or spent at online stores that accept Skrill.
Most gambling sites are able to pay winners via Skrill too. This makes it easy to cash out of one gambling site and deposit to another. Again, it works like an online bank account. When you want to take money out of Skrill, you can order a transfer to your regular Taiwan bank account. This company is very reputable and licensed by a UK government agency called FSA.
If your debit card does not work at Skrill you will need to go to your bank to make a wire transfer. When doing this there is form for cross border money remittance. For amounts NT$20000 and less it is best to write online shopping as the reason for sending money out of Taiwan. If you have questions search the internet and maybe refer to this guide in Taiwanese.
In Taiwan we have online sports betting available with Taiwan Sports Lottery. The odds are however very poor. Take the case of fixed odds for NBA basketball where handicaps (point spreads) are offered at odds 1.77 (Risk 13 to win 10) and it is required wagers be placed in at least 6-team multiples. At www.bet365.com the same is offered at 1.909 (Risk 11 to win 10) and you can place singles or any number of multiples.
When betting multiples at Bet365 the odds are even better than 1.909 (Risk 11 to win 10). For example, for NBA basketball handicaps (point spreads) 6-team multiples pay a 20% bonus. This brings the standard 47.41 to 1 payout to an amazing 58.9 to 1. At Taiwan Sports Lottery the exact same bet pays 29.7 to 1. This means almost double the payout size at Bet365 over our legal sports lottery.
Bet365 is truly an international site and this means you can find betting odds on all sports and leagues from around the world. They cover Asian soccer, baseball and basketball and all the major European, American and African sports too. Live in-play betting is offered as is live streams of sports matches. Once you use their website it will be easy to understand why it is the preferred choice of Taiwanese gamblers.
Bodog88 is our favourite website for gambling Mahjong online. They are powered by renowned software provider Mahjong Logic and offer accounts in Taiwan New Dollar (TWD). The software is full download and supports Hong Kong, Schenzen, Riichi, Classic and MCR games for real money wagering. Their website is comprehensive covering details of each game.
For casino players you’ll find both Bet365 and Bodog88 are great options. Each offers live dealer versions of baccarat (百家樂), blackjack (大酒杯), Roulette ((輪盤賭), Sic-Bo (骰寶). These use the latest in webcam rendering technology to broadcast a sexy female dealer performing game actions on real casino tables. The bets take place live but you bet them online. Bodog88 uses Asian dealers, while Bet365 dealers are mostly European.
Deciding which casino to use depends on your English Language skills. Bodog88 support our language better. I however enjoy Bet365 the most because they have many more games and some of the best online slots. On the other hand, Bodog88 is much more Asian focused. Here you can find a commission free variant of baccarat and a numbers game similar to bingo bingo offered Taiwan. It is our advice casino players open an account at both sites and decide which they prefer.
There are many options for playing online poker from Taiwan. If you play Texas Hold’em cash games Bodog88 has some of the softest games online. They also offer download versions of their software in English, Chinese Simplified (简体字) and Traditional (繁體字) languages. If you’re mostly a tournament player or enjoy other games such as Stud, Omaha, Triple Draw, Razz and Badugi then www.pokerstars.com is the best choice for Taiwanese Players. They accept both Skrill and EntroPay, but also have an option for Taiwanese players to deposit with domestic bank transfer.
The two richest lotteries in Taiwan are Super Lotto (威力彩) and Lotto 6/49 (6/49大樂透 ). On the surface the games are straight forward and easy to play. The actual wagering options are more complex with the options for round robin, box, and to play multiple sets on the same ticket.
How to play Taiwan Super Lotto (威力彩)
taiwan-lottoSuper Lotto (威力彩) also called Power Lotto or Lotto 6/38 – is one of the two richest lotteries in Taiwan. In its simplest form a wager is six numbers 1-38 and a seventh number 1-8 for a price of NT$100 per bet. The options when filling out betting cards are many.
It is possible to over select the required numbers. For example if you select 7 numbers it will play all 7 combinations of 6 numbers and cost NT$700. If you select 8 numbers it plays all 28 combos of 6 numbers and cost NT$2800. This is so on and so forth and is referred to in English as round robin.
You can also leave a number blank. For example: picking just five numbers – the final sixth number will be boxed (played all 38 ways) and cost NT$3800. On the same selection card you can play up to four games and this will all print out on a single ticket. An example is shown above to the right.
In Super Lottery, the order of the numbers does not matter (there is no order to select). The prizes are as follows:
6 Correct + Bonus = 89% of Progressive Jackpot
6 Correct (No Bonus) = 11% of Progressive Jackpot.
5 Correct + Bonus = NT $150,000 Fixed-Odds
5 Correct (no bonus) = NT$20,000 Fixed-Odds
4 Correct + Bonus = NT$4,000 Fixed-Odds
4 Correct (no bonus) = NT$800 Fixed-Odds
3 Correct + Bonus = NT$400 Fixed-Odds
2 Correct + Bonus = NT$200 Fixed-Odds
3 Correct (no bonus) = NT$100 Fixed-Odds
1 Correct + Bonus = NT$100 Fixed-Odds
Frequency: draws are held twice a week Monday and Thursday.
Payout Allocation: from each NT$100 ticket sold, 55% goes to the progressive jackpot. This carries over each week when there are no winners. If there are multiple winners in the same week they split the jackpot.
Jackpot Sizes: the Jackpot size depends on sales. When someone has won the previous draw the prize is often 70-80 million NT and then grows from there each draw. The largest jackpot in 2012 came April 19, 2012 when it exceeded 1.1 billion. There was a single top winner who was paid NT$ 947,451,651 ($32.7 million USD) for his lucky picks.
How to play Lotto 6/49 (6/49大樂透 )
The other of the two richest lotteries in Taiwan, Lotto 6/49 is also a twice weekly lottery. It is drawn on Tuesdays and Fridays. Players choose six numbers (1-49) at a cost of NT$50 per bet. The same box and round robin opportunities exist as in Super Lotto. There are seven numbers (not six) drawn. This extra number is not selected on player’s tickets but is rather used for second place prizes on down. 55% of ticket sales are used to fund the jackpot with unpaid portions rolling over to the next draw. The payouts are as follows.
6 Correct = 58% of Jackpot
5 Correct + Bonus = 9% of Jackpot
5 Correct (no bonus) = 9% of Jackpot
4 Correct + Bonus = 5% of Jackpot
4 Correct = 19% of the Jackpot
3 Correct + Bonus = NT$1000 Fixed-Odds
3 Correct (no bonus) = NT$400 Fixed-Odds
Lotto 649 Jackpot Size: In draws where someone has won the jackpot the week before the prize is around 90 million NT. It can also grow very large. At one point in 2012 it reached NT$1,712,238,207. Ticket sales were a record high and there were five first place winners.
There are two legal ways to get a gambling fix in a hurry. These are scratch cards and BINGO BINGO. The latter is actually what much of the world refers to as Keno, but is known when gambling in Mainland China as Bái gē piào (白鴿票) and in Macau gambling as Pacapio. Both scratch cards and BINGO BINGO are explained in the sections below.
Playing Keno in Taiwan (Bingo Bingo)
As just mention, in Taiwan Keno is called Bingo Bingo and draws take place every five minutes. 20 out of 80 balls are drawn for each game. The monitors showing the draw feature cartoons (often of a sexy-female) and music. Players can chose to play games that select any amount of numbers – starting at 1 and up to 10. The payouts are different depending how many numbers the player selects. The cost per wager is NT$25 regardless of the game played.
The payouts are available on the BINGO BINGO webpage. This is in Taiwanese but following the left column you can easily decipher the payouts for each game. The right column is for a multiplier side bet.
Which game to play: Understand all around the world the odds on Keno are not very good and Bingo Bingo in Taiwan is no exception. The games with the highest returns are 9-selections at 65.3%, 6-selections at 61%, 5-selections at 60.3% and ten selections at 59.2%. The others range from 50% to 56% return. If you must play, the four games mentioned are best, but know BINGO BINGO is a long term losing proposition.
A final note is there is a high low-side game available. To win a high bet – 13 numbers must fall in spots 41-80. To win a low bet – 13 numbers must fall in spots 1-40. This game has very poor odds as it pays only 6-to-1 making it the worst of all Bingo Bingo bets.
Scratch cards (刮刮樂)
Scratch cards are very popular in Taiwan with many different versions sold. If you enter 刮刮樂 into a Google image search you can see the diverse variety offered. A lot of times these are issued in series. For example: for 2012 Chinese New Year we had scratch cards such as Great Luck Great Winnings (大吉大利) at $NT100, Blossoming Riches (花開富貴) at NT$200, Homeplan (五福臨門) at NT$500 and the richest one yet $26,000,000 Red Envelope at $NT2000 per ticket.
These can be purchased most anywhere lottery is sold and at various stores and vendors. How each game is played is different. The most common games require matching 3 symbols from six slots to win the prize for that symbol. Some are lucky symbol games where only one symbol is needed to win and more symbols wins larger prizes. There are other more complex variations too. There is no strategy involved; just scratch the card and look at the rules printed on it to see if you win.
In Taiwan we have many daily lotteries that are drawn every day but Sunday. This includes the daily numbers 3, numbers 4, a game like tic-tac-toe and others. Each is explained in sections below.
How to play Lotto 539 (今彩539)
Lotto 539, also called Daily Cash, is the easiest Taiwan lottery to explain. Tickets cost NT$50 and are five numbers 1-39. The drawing takes place every day except for Sunday, no bonus number is used and the payouts are fixed as opposed to progressive. 5 Correct pays 8 million, 4 correct pays 20,000, 3 correct pays 300 and 4 correct pays 50.
Tic Tac Toe / Lotto 9 Line (樂線九宮格)
This game translates to English as 9 Line Sudoku but is what most in the west know as tic-tac-toe. The sheet for selecting numbers is shown to the left. You pick one number from each of the nine boxes. Tickets cost NT$25 per wager and drawings take place everyday but Sunday. How many lines (horizontal, vertical or diagonal just like tic-tac-toe) you make determines how much you win. 8 lines is $1.5 million, 6-lines is NT$25000, 5-lines is $12500, 4 lines is $1250, 3-lines is $250, 2 lines is $125 and 1 line is $25.
Draw 3 Daily Numbers (星彩)
This is Taiwan’s Daily Pick 3 Draw, it is held every day but Sunday. For a straight bet you chose a number 000 to 999 and this cost NT$25 and if correct you are paid NT$12500. If only the last two are correct this pays NT$750. You can also do a bet on any order. If your numbers are all unique this pays NT$4000. If two of numbers are duplicate (ex: 221) it pays NT$2000. It is not possible with any order wagers to select number of that are all the same (ex: 111, 222, etc.).
Draw 4 Daily Numbers (星彩)
This draw takes place everyday but Sunday and involves picking a number 0000 to 9999 at a cost of NT$25 per bet. Drawing the correct number pays $125,000. There is also a wager for any order bets. If three numbers are the same (ex: 2111) this pays $30,000. If you have two sets of numbers (ex: 3366) this pays $20,000. If you use one number twice (ex: 1123) this pays $10,000 and all unique numbers (ex:1456) pays $5,000.
There are three other legal lotteries in Taiwan that all function similar but are slightly different. These are the least popular of what is offered but there are Taiwanese that prefer these. This is because they work similar to lotteries that existed in China for many years. These are explained below in list format.
Lottery 38 (38樂合彩) – this is a simple lottery game drawn every Monday and Thursdays costing NT$25 per bet. There are 38 numbers and you play 2, 3, 4, or 5 of them. However many you play, you must get all correct to win the prize. The two number game pays $750, the three number game $5750, the four number game $67,500 and the five number game $1,150,000.
49 Lottery (49樂合彩) -This works similar to the lottery mentioned above. The difference is there are 49 numbers, the games are drawn Tuesday and Friday and you pick 2, 3 or 4 numbers. Tickets still cost NT$25 each and you still must get 100% correct. 2-game pays $1250, 3-game pays $12,500, and 4-game pays $200,000.
39 Lottery (39樂合彩) – This works the same as the lotteries above also costing NT$25 and however many you pick you must get 100% correct. This game is drawn everyday but Sunday. The numbers are up to 39. 2-game pays $1,125, 3-game pays $11,250, 4-game $212,500.
This article has now covered all lottery organised by the subsidiary of Chinatrust Commercial Bank (CTCB) – Taiwan Lottery Co. Ltd. While we don’t suggest it, online betting in Taiwan is also a widespread. This offers better odds but comes with great penalty if caught.