China has announced plans to expand gambling to Hainan Island to help a weak southern province. The planned expansion will include the development of horse racing, instant lottery and sports lottery. According to experts, the move could ultimately lead to China opening the door for casinos on the island.

Gambling is illegal in China with very few exceptions. Only two types of lotteries are allowed within the country’s borders in accordance with applicable laws. Horse racing is permitted to a limited extent and sports betting is strictly prohibited.

Macau is currently the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. The Special Administrative Region has maintained its casino monopoly for decades and has attracted some of the world’s largest casino companies, including Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International. It is believed that if the Chinese government softens its stance on gambling and allows casinos in other parts of the country, including Hainan, Macau could suffer the worst economic blow.

According to the reform, approved by the Chinese cabinet on Saturday, it will support various projects that could help the tourism industry and the economy of Hainan, including the development of horse racing. The document further states that the province should investigate lottery products such as online lottery and sports lottery at major international games.

Bloomberg reported in February that the Chinese government is considering legalizing several forms of gambling on Hainan Island. Citing sources familiar with the topic, the news feed stated that online gambling, horse racing and lottery are some of the options run by President Xi Jinping’s cabinet. Online gambling was not mentioned in the reform agenda released on Saturday.

Gambling on hainan

China’s support for expanded games on the island comes at a time when it desperately needs strong economic stimulus. Hainan has long been a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of tourists every year for its sandy beaches and resorts.

However, it is currently suffering from a severe financial deficit as its largest conglomerate, HNA Group Co, is embroiled in a debt crisis following dangerous global expansion.

In addition to expanded gambling, President Xi’s reform package includes various other initiatives aimed at attracting investor attention and helping to rebuild the island. As such, Hainan will seek to boost its tourism industry by increasing international flights to the island and developing beach and water sports.

During a visit to the southernmost province, President Xi announced that the reform agenda will include the creation of a Hainan Free Trade Zone by 2020, a ban on the sale of fossil fuel vehicles, and the development of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. These and many other projects were included in the reform plan published on Saturday. 

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