China could be on the verge of progressively legalizing gambling activities in parts of the country besides Hong Kong and Macau over the next 10 years, said CEO and owner of Global Betting & Gaming Consultants, Warwick Bartlett, during an online conference organized by the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia last week.
“I believe that China will, within 10 years, legalize gambling within their own borders. The reason I believe this will happen is because you can’t continually criminalize ordinary people’s behavior,” said Bartlett.
“The British government discovered that in 1963 when they legalized gambling and other countries slowly followed,” Bartlett added. “It makes sense because customers are better protected and you can tax the revenue and it creates a whole new industry.”
According to Bartlett, what happens now is part of an “agonizing process very similar to what happened in the U.S. a few years ago. They are preventing payment solutions to the Internet and they are disrupting the process of gambling every way possible.”
He notes that after a while, Chinese authorities will realize that such measures do not work and they will then move towards partial legalization. At this point, he also believes that horse racing activities and The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) will have an important role to play.
Bartlett anticipates that Chinese authorities will potentially grant the HKJC a franchise in the mainland.
“The richest half percent of people in the world are the owners of horses and they are [also] the most influential people. And this will be also a way for China to exercise its influence over these people,” he predicted.
After gaining trust in the system, China will expand locations where racecourses have been built, developing hotels and other venues beside racetracks until they reach the point where they fully legalize all gambling activities.