Macau has for some time been the only Chinese territory on which people can legally gamble. Today, news emerged that Chinese authorities are considering allowing online gaming, a lottery or sports betting on Hainan Island.
A game changer for the gaming industry in Asia?
China is well documented as having strict views on gambling within the country, and so this is by no means certain to become a reality but, reports by Bloomberg state the Chinese government is now discussing the issue. Hainan is an island and so the ban on casinos in “mainland China” would be unaffected, but business in the casinos of Macau could quickly deteriorate as customers choose to spend some of their time and money over in Hainan.
Proposals being considered by the Chinese government would not, in their current form allow for land-based casinos in Hainan, but there is a strong feeling that the introduction of lotteries, sports betting and online wagers could begin laying the foundations for casinos to follow. This would end Macau’s quasi-monopoly on the Asian gambling market and could permanently shift this landscape.
Rumours about rule changes in Hainan have been circulating in the region recently, with real estate companies using them to push up property prices, but this news report by a trusted source such as Bloomberg gives them serious credibility. Stocks in Macau responded immediately, with Wynn Macau Ltd. Slipping backwards by 6.7% in the aftermath of the report, before recovering to -0.2%. MGM China Holdings Ltd. Has dropped 1.5%, and Sands China Ltd. Has fallen by 1.4%.
Poker in Hainan
Hainan would not be new to hosting poker tournaments if such a change comes to pass though, as they have already hosted major events such as WPT tournaments and recently the first edition of the WSOP China, while abiding by strict rules on not allowing a direct monetary buy in. Cash games have also not been possible.
Article by Craig Bradshaw