By Tom Bannister
Up until now gambling in the the PRC has been restricted to the small southern city of Macau, a special administrative region that is governed separately from the mainland. Now however, authorities are considering whether to lift restrictions and allow casinos to spread onto the mainland. They are piloting this expansion with a cashless casino.
Reuters reports that the newly opened Jesters Casino Bar, built within a new holiday resort in Hainan, is the first Chinese casino outside of Macau. It is only open to hotel guests but will eventually be opened to outsiders as well. Punters cannot win money, instead they win credits that they can use to pay for things for sale at the resort, including accommodation and luxury items available in the resorts shops.
The casino bar is part of the Mangrove Tree Resort in Sanya, Hainan province. The owner of the resort, entrepreneur Zhang Baoquan, said that:
“Our casino bar is the first in the country. The government is monitoring, it’s a test; Right now we are not at this stage [legalising casino gambling], but my personal opinion is, in future, there is a big possibility that they will have.”
With more and more Chinese people willing to flash their cash, it would make financial sense for the government to encourage them to do so in mainland China. Macau’s casino revenue is now four times that of Las Vegas, which has been harder hit by the Global Financial Crisis.