China’s Ministry of Finance posted an announcement on Monday that outlined the new guidelines for lottery sales in the country. The new rules will take effect next month. Currently, gambling in the Mainland China is illegal except for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The latter is a destination for gamblers across the world and rivals cities like Las Vegas. In addition to this, the Chinese population can try their luck in state-run lotteries. The government currently operates two lotteries. There is the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery. Technically, these activities aren’t considered a form of gambling, which is why they are legal.
Much like in many other places that prohibit private companies from offering gambling products, illegal gambling is widespread across China as well. There are many underground casinos and online casinos offering ample opportunities to wager money for those who seek this kind of entertainment. According to the estimates of The Daily Telegraph (UK), the size of the illegal gambling market is approximately 1 trillion yuan a year. This is equivalent to almost $150 billion.
The prevalence of illegal activities in the gambling market has forced the Chinese government to take a strict approach to the regulations. Even though the illegal activities span across various gambling products, the new regulations target a specific form of illegal activities related to the industry, the unofficial resale of the lotteries. The laws require an organization issuing or selling lottery tickets to be authorized by the State Council and the Ministry of Finance.
The new guidelines reinforce the ban on online lottery sales
Back in 2015, the government banned online sales of its lottery tickets in order to prevent fraud and allow the authorities to better monitor these activities. Last month, the government once more emphasized this ban and commented that the Ministry of Finance hadn’t allowed any company yet to sell the lottery tickets online. The amendment published on Monday also touched upon the issue declaring the “online sales of welfare lottery tickets and sports lottery tickets without authorisation” to be illegal.
Beijing Daily Newspaper reported that there were companies that sold the tickets online regardless of the ban. “Although there was the most rigorous ban of online sales of lottery tickets such operations had persisted in some quarters. Some illegal apps are even cosplaying whereby users only discover they are lottery apps when opening, there are still selling various lottery tickets; some apps even sell Hong Kong Mark Six illegally”, – read the newspaper. The announcement on Monday likely served the purpose of a warning as well, as the government is trying to inform the public about the illegality of such sales.
The new guidelines are a part of the general effort of the Chinese government to crack down on illegal activities in the gambling industry. Earlier in August, CCTV, China’s state broadcaster made comments about Apple allowing over 25,000 apps to access the lottery ticket sales in China and offer the population gambling products that are illegal. In response, Apple said that it was actively working on removing such applications from the App Store. This is not the first time Apple had to comply with the demands of a government to remove gambling applications from its store. Recently, Norway, another country that tightly controls the gambling industry, also made Apple take down 38 of gambling applications from the Norwegian market.