Casinos in Asia: legalizing gambling in the Chinese province of Hainan, the ideological obstacle

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Sebastien Goulard


The successful liberalization of the gaming industry in Macau has incited other Asian destinations to reconsider their position on gambling. For the last ten years, new gaming destinations have emerged in Asia. China has still not yet legalized this industry, but since last year, new policies authorizing sport lotteries have been introduced in the province of Hainan. The objective of this measure is to diversify tourism in that province and make Hainan more attractive for visitors. In case of success, this policy could be expanded to other gaming activities and casinos would be legalized in Hainan, as advocated by the provincial government; but legalizing casinos in Hainan may face several obstacles.This paper aims at showing that the success of Asian casino destinations mainly results from China’s ban on gambling. This study will focus on the history of gambling in China, and the reasons for the continuation of gambling prohibition in China. The author will argue that the ideological opposition plays a similar role as religious movements in Western countries. The paper will be illustrated by a literature review analyzing previous examples in other parts of the world. 

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