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Resorts, lotteries coming to Hainan

2010-01-07 09:20 BJT

Special Report: Hainan aims for int’l travel spot |

BEIJING, Jan. 6 -- Lottery regulations are being relaxed in China's tropical southern island province of Hainan to assist it becoming a global resort within a decade, marking a big step forward for the country's lottery business.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, gave permission to Hainan on Monday to "explore and develop" pari-mutuel sports lotteries and instant sports lotteries on large international events, which is expected to enrich Hainan's tourism resources.

It aroused media speculation that horseracing is likely to be introduced to the island, or that Hainan would even become China's answer to Las Vegas.

"Hainan has been given more space than other parts of China to explore the lottery market, but it does not mean Hainan will break China's laws," Hainan Governor Luo Baoming told a press conference yesterday.

He declined to confirm whether pari-mutuel horseracing would be introduced to the island.

Gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland, according to Chinese laws.

Welfare and sports lotteries were permitted two decades ago to raise funds for welfare and sports causes, and a regulation was passed last year to legalize the lottery business in China, said Wang Xuehong, director of the China Center for Lottery Studies based in Peking University.

Previously, pari-mutuel sports lotteries could only bet on the results of foreign basketball and football games, not domestic games, out of fear of match fixing and other unfair practices, she said.

"Now the rules allow pari-mutuel sports lotteries to bet on the results of domestic and international sports events that are held in Hainan, which will be a big step forward for China's 22-year-old lottery business," she said.