Active players: 200.000.000
Currency: Renminbi (CNY)
Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, lotteries
Operator types: Lotteries, betting shops, unlicensed online bookies and casinos
Designated authority: No designated authority
China , officially named the People's Republic of China (PRC), is an East Asian country; it has the largest population in the world with more than 1.4 billion inhabitants. It consists of 23 provinces, five autonomous regions and two Special Administrative Regions; Hong Kong and Macau. The capital is Beijing, while the largest city is Shanghai. Sports are very popular here; table tennis (ping pong) is the national sport of China, while football, basketball and badminton also attract thousands of fans. Five time world badminton champion Lin Dan and NBA legend Yao Ming, are probably still the most popular local athletes.
Gambling in China is illegal, with only a few exceptions to this rule. Historically, gambling has played an extremely important role in the local culture; even during the Middle Ages, gambling was already an everyday thing between locals. During the Japanese invasion in the 1930’s, Shanghai saw itself becoming a major gambling hub. Yet when Mao Zedong came to power in 1949 he banned all forms of gambling; and it more or less remains the same till today. Thankfully though, not having a specific law framework, especially regarding the online sector, has made it possible for it to stay active. For players in search of an online bet, China eventually has quite a lot of options to offer, as we will see below.
China gambling - 5 things to know
- There are no casinos or any other legal gambling dens
- The China Sports Lottery is the only legal operator offering some types of sports betting
- Professional gambling is rather the target of the authorities, instead of casual gamblers
- There is no designated regulator and no specific law framework
- International bookies can still be accessed by local players
Best Chinese online bookmakers
Despite the surveillance on behalf of the state, many international bookies actually accept local players; to make choosing easier, we list the best China bookmakers. They have a wide coverage on all major sporting events from around the world while providing numerous special bets and welcome offers to suit every player’s needs.
Gambling in China: The law framework
As a title, we would simply say that gambling is illegal; with one exception. The Sports Lottery, in place since 1994, being the only way for locals to bet legally. Its betting shops are everywhere and it also offers online pool betting on specific sports and events. However, nobody argues that it is very limited and miles away from what’s on offer at international bookies.
There is no specific law framework, just the Criminal Law, introduced in 1949 when the People’s Republic was formed; still being very cautious against the ‘three vices that destroy society’: drugs, prostitution and gambling. The Lottery Issuance Agency issues permissions to local vendors to sell its tickets, after approval by the General Administration of Sport and the Ministry of Civil Affairs. And that’s all basically, there is -naturally- no licensing system for China betting sites in place.
However, one may find no reference on playing with international bookies that hold overseas jurisdictions’ licenses; whereas players are not under scrutiny themselves. The main target remains online gambling sites in China. For that reason, there is still in place one of the most elaborate firewall systems in the world. The notorious 'Great Firewall' blocks access to global powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter, let alone gambling sites. Still though, numerous operators find their way around it and manage to offer their services to local bettors whatsoever.
Historically seen, before 1949 China was probably the epicenter of the world’s gambling. Nowadays, Hong Kong and -mainly- Macau, the East world’s Las Vegas, attract millions of Chinese and foreign players. Authorities have already targeted such moves and try to restrict them, yet the local passion for gambling is unmatched; deriving from their cultural and historical backgrounds.
Lastly, regarding the ever ongoing ‘is gambling good on Chinese New Year?’ question; it’s true that almost every single household will traditionally have at least a few rounds of Mahjong. However, always keep in mind that it is only legal if no money is involved and in all privacy whatsoever. Yes, locals tend to enjoy games of chance; yet make no mistake, none of it is typically legal. The anti-gambling stance is as tough as ever.
The Sports Lottery’s three main games include Football Lottery, Six Selection Half time/Full time, and 4-selection correct score. Not even close to what online bookies have on display. Online gambling in China is also illegal, despite the absence of a particular reference in the Criminal Law.
Still, bookmakers licensed in other jurisdictions are not treated the way illegal Chinese sports betting sites are. So, any international site has to get past the Great Firewall; if it succeeds and you can sign up with it, you probably will not face any problems. Always use a VPN software though, and always keep your betting private. Although there have only been just a few reports of prosecuting players for online betting; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, the odds are much better at online bookies. There is absolutely no comparison to the Sports Lottery’s ones. Picking an appropriate payment platform for funding your account is also important before you start. Avoiding debit cards and straight-out bank wires is the best thing to do. E-wallets are always a good choice.
Table tennis is the national sport, while football and basketball attract countless fans too. Still though, players do not enjoy betting on their favorite sports; and that’s because there are no legal Chinese bookmakers, while the Sports Lottery only provides some limited pool betting.
If you wanna properly bet on the world’s major football leagues and competitions, international operators are the only way. Either that being an NBA game or a Spanish La Liga classic derby, you will surely find what you're looking for. Many special bets and features also await players. Also, check out the many different welcome offers and pick the most suitable to match your needs.
Volleyball is also very popular in China, with thousands of fans attending local competitions. As expected, all major local and international competitions are covered by some of the top online bookies we list; again, stay away from illegal Chinese betting sites at all costs.
If we strictly abide by the law, gambling in China is only allowed through its lotteries. The Sports Lottery in specific, offers some pool betting through its various kiosks. It also offers it online, providing various payment gateways; the prevailing ones are WeChat Pay, Alipay and UnionPay. All three have millions of users, since the market is literally vast. They cater for all sorts of local payments and are very popular.
WeChat Pay introduced the virtual ‘red envelope’ payment system in 2014, resembling the local tradition of exchanging envelopes with money in them among friends and family during holidays. UnionPay was founded in 2002 and operates under approval by the People's Bank of China; it is also the only interbank network in the country linking all Chinese banks' ATMs. Alipay operates with over 50 financial institutions including Visa and MasterCard, providing payment services for more than 450,000 local and overseas businesses.
Meanwhile, players who sign up with international bookies usually skip traditional methods and turn to e-wallets, for a slice of privacy. With China sports betting being typically illegal, they want to avoid connecting their transactions directly to their bank accounts. Online bookmakers on their behalf, come with various e-wallet options; like Neteller, Skrill, ecoPayz and Jeton. These are all famous for their user-friendly and secure interface; as it is safer than funding your betting account through a debit card, leading straight back to your bank account. PayPal is also there; however, it does not allow gambling transactions in China.
Last yet not least, crypto betting is already happening. It is illegal, as officially the People’s Bank of China states; still though, hundreds of thousands are utilizing cryptocurrency exchanges, including online sportsbooks in China. However, you do need to get to know cryptos well enough before using them; that’s for sure.
Local currency betting removes all thoughts and calculations concerning possible exchange fees and it adds a sense of familiarity too. That’s why we hereby list all Chinese online betting sites that offer CNY transactions.
Despite the historical bonding the Chinese have with gambling, the moral part is keeping things back. So, being vastly seen as a crime, the China bet scene is very difficult to reach its full potential. Despite millions of players daily challenging their luck and skills either online or in the neighboring Macau; gambling in China is almost impossible to flourish as an open market.
If anything was to change, it would need to derive from a change in politics and morals; both almost impossible in this vast Asian country. On the other hand, people’s need for gambling always finds its way. Therefore, the online sector will most probably keep attracting millions of bet-hungry local players.
The complete list of bookmakers in China
China gambling is not that rich. However, the online offering is; we hereby list all available betting sites that accept local bettors. These are all 100% legitimate bookmakers. Scroll through, make your choices and enjoy a great online betting experience.