The Chinese mainland could see the first official bet placed on
a horse race since 1949 as early as next year.
The central government has approved the establishment of regular
horse racing in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province,
and is mulling over the introduction of gambling on the races in
The races would be held at the Orient Lucky City racecourse in
Wuhan in September this year, according to a senior manager with
the Orient Lucky Horse Group Cooperation, who did not want to be
The announcement is being seen as the beginning of gambling on
horse racing on the Chinese mainland.
The Changjiang Times newspaper in Wuhan reported that
betting will be launched alongside horse racing in September.
However, the manager told Xinhua betting on the races would
probably not be introduced on a trial basis until 2009.
"Initially about 250 horses from different jockey clubs around
the country will participate in the races," said the manager, "but
betting can only be officially launched when the races draw at
least 2,000 horses."
"The proposal of betting on horse racing is being reviewed and
discussed but there is no concrete information on when or whether
it will begin," a spokeswoman with the China Sports Lottery
Administration Center (CSLC) surnamed Fang told Xinhua by
Qin Zunwen, an expert in the study of horse racing betting, said
the business, once fully operational nationwide, could create three
million jobs a year.
He told the Changjiang Times that annual lottery sales
could reach a staggering 100 billion yuan (US$13.7 billion),
yielding 40 billion yuan in tax revenues.
"Offering a legal venue to bet on horse races could drive out
illegal online gambling," he added.
Wuhan started to study the feasibility of introducing betting on
horse racing in 2005 and has since submitted several reports to the
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
A survey conducted by the Hubei Academy of Social Sciences
revealed that 83.3 percent of the Wuhan residents believed the
introduction of betting would have a positive social impact, and 51
percent of the respondents said they were "interested" or "very
interested" in gambling on the races.
Wuhan was once a center for horse racing in the early 1900s,
where foreign and Chinese businessmen developed the top three
racecourses in the country.
But the sport was banned on the Chinese mainland in 1949 when
the Communist Party came to power. It wasn't until the early 1990s
that it reappeared after national races were organized and jockey
clubs set up.
Wuhan is now home to more than 400 race horses and has held the
country's biggest equestrian festival annually in October since
(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2008)