Gambling in China: History and Popular Gambling Games In China

Gambling is not legal in China and is generally frowned upon by the government. 

However, there are some forms of gambling activities that are allowed in the country, such as lotteries and Mahjong as gambling is a fun and exciting activity for some people. It provides an adrenaline rush and a sense of anticipation, as well as the potential for big wins. 

Gambling is an important part of Chinese culture and is often used as a way to bring people together.

Lotteries have been popular in China since the Han Dynasty, and Mahjong is a traditional Chinese game that is very popular among Chinese people. 

Other forms of gambling, such as sports betting, casino games, and poker, are not allowed.

Well, let’s read about the past and present of Gambling in China (Mainland China), the past and present of Gambling in Macau, the past and present of Gambling in HongKong, Gambling Games popular in Ancient China, and 5 Most Popular Gambling Games in China Today.

History of Gambling in China (Mainland China)

Gambling has been a part of China’s culture for thousands of years. 

Ancient Chinese texts mention various forms of gambling, including dice, cards, chess, and dominoes. 

Gambling was popular in the Tang Dynasty (618–907) and was even considered a way to raise money for the state. 

The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) also saw an increase in gambling, as the ruling class took part in high-stakes games. 

During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) there were restrictions placed on gambling, but it still remained popular. 

By the 20th century, Chinese gambling had become even more widespread, and in the 1950s, the Communist Party officially banned all forms of gambling. 

However, this ban was not strictly enforced and gambling continued to take place, often in underground locations. 

Today, gambling is illegal in mainland China but is allowed in the Special Administrative Regions of Macau and Hong Kong. 

Gambling is also popular in online casinos, and many Chinese citizens play these games. 

Despite the ban, gambling continues to be a part of Chinese culture and remains popular among many people.

Gambling in Mainland China today is illegal in most circumstances. 

Despite this, gambling still exists in various forms in the country. While lotteries and some forms of sports betting are legal, most forms of gambling are prohibited in the country due to its strict laws. 

Despite this, there are still illegal gambling dens and underground casinos operating in some parts of the country. 

These establishments offer a wide range of gambling activities including poker, mahjong, and other types of gambling games. 

It is estimated that there are over 100 million people in China who gamble illegally each year. 

The Chinese government has made some attempts to crack down on illegal gambling by introducing tougher laws and regulations. 

However, these measures have failed to completely eliminate the problem. 

In recent years, the government has also attempted to reduce the amount of money lost through gambling by introducing measures such as limiting the amount of money that can be bet on a single game. 

Gambling in Mainland China today is still an issue and the government continues to take action to reduce the amount of money lost through illegal gambling activities.

Past and Present of Gambling in Macau 

Gambling has been a part of Macau’s history since the 16th century when the Portuguese first arrived in the area. 

The first recorded instance of gambling in Macau was in 1847 when the Portuguese government granted a monopoly on all gambling activities to the Hong Kong-based company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. 

This company was responsible for the emergence of the world-famous Casino Lisboa. 

Throughout the 19th century, gambling grew in popularity in Macau and it became a major source of revenue for the Portuguese government. 

In the early 20th century, casinos flourished in Macau and the city became known as the “Las Vegas of the East”. 

In 1999, Macau was returned to China and the Chinese government decided to liberalize the gambling industry. 

This decision allowed foreign companies to operate casinos in Macau and the city soon became the world’s largest gambling hub. 

Today, Macau is home to 33 casinos and it is the world’s largest gambling destination. It is estimated that gambling accounts for approximately half of Macau’s total GDP. 

In 2017, the city’s gambling revenues reached a record high of more than $33 billion.

The majority of the gambling industry in Macau is monopolized by the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, which has been granted monopoly rights by the government since 1962. 

Gambling in Macau today is a major industry and a major source of revenue for the area. 

According to the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, gambling revenue accounted for approximately 87.3 percent of total government revenue in 2018. 

Macau is home to 35 casinos and gaming venues, which range from small, family-owned businesses to large, multi-billion dollar corporations. 

The gambling industry in Macau today is regulated by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which was established in 2002, and is responsible for ensuring that all casinos and gaming venues in Macau operate within the confines of the law. 

Gambling in Macau is also heavily influenced by Chinese culture, which has an important role in the region. 

Gambling has long been associated with luck and fortune, and this is reflected in the games and activities offered in casinos. 

Baccarat, blackjack, roulette(INSERT LINK HERE_ROULETTE, BLACKJACK And BACCARAT CONTENT), and a variety of other games are popular in the area, and the Chinese game of mahjong is also often played in the casinos. 

In addition to traditional gambling, Macau also offers a variety of entertainment and leisure activities, such as shopping, dining, and nightlife. The area is home to a number of luxury hotels and resorts, and visitors can also take advantage of the region’s many beaches and other attractions.

Past And Present Gambling in Hongkong 

Gambling has a long history in Hong Kong. 

The Chinese have been gambling for centuries, and the practice has been transplanted to the city with the influx of Chinese immigrants. 

The first recorded instance of gambling in Hong Kong was in 1843 when a British sea captain brought a roulette wheel to the city. 

At this time, gambling was strictly prohibited by the Chinese government, but the British authorities allowed it to continue. 

In the early 20th century, horse racing and the lottery were introduced to Hong Kong. 

This created a boom in the gambling industry, with lucrative betting pools and even legalized casinos. 

In the 1950s, the Hong Kong Jockey Club was established, and it would become one of the most profitable organizations in the city. 

The club opened the first proper casino in Hong Kong in 1967, and it was a huge success. 

In the late 20th century, the city also began to introduce electronic gaming machines, which further increased the popularity of gambling in the city. 

Today, Hong Kong is home to a large number of casinos and gaming establishments, as well as an active gambling culture.

In Hong Kong, gambling is legal but is limited to the government-run Hong Kong Jockey Club, which is the only legal bookmaker and totalisator. Licensed gambling clubs also operate in the territory and offer games such as baccarat, blackjack, mahjong, and fan-tan.

Gambling in Hong Kong is legal but still limited to date.

The only legal form of gambling in the region is the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which offers various forms of horse racing and sports betting. 

The government also holds a monopoly on the lottery and there are no casinos or other land-based gaming establishments. 

However, there are a variety of online gambling sites that accept players from Hong Kong, offering a wide range of betting activities, such as casino games, sports betting, lotteries and bingo. (INSERT LINK HERE_BINGO)

These sites are regulated by the government and are generally considered safe and secure.

Over the centuries, many different games have been played in China. 

  1. The most popular gambling game is Mahjong, which has been played since the late 19th century. It is a four-player game where players compete to build sets of tiles. 

             The game has become a staple of Chinese culture and is popular across the world. 

  1. Another popular game is Fan Tan, which dates back to the 19th century. It is a game of chance, where players bet on the outcome of four coins being tossed. 
  1. Bau Cua Ca Cop is another popular game in China. It is a dice game, with players betting on the outcome of three dice being thrown. 
  1. Finally, the game of Sic Bo is another popular game in China. It is a dice game that has been played since at least the 18th century. Players bet on the outcome of three dice being thrown. Overall, gambling games have been a part of Chinese culture for centuries. 
  1. Lotteries have been popular in China since the Han Dynasty.

There are 5 gambling games that are most popular in china today.

Loved by Most Chinese Gamblers, the top 5 gambling games popular in china today are-


The popular Chinese tile game is played by four players and involves a set of 144 tiles. Players match tiles and build different combinations, with the winner being the player with the highest score. 

Pai Gow:

Pai Gow is a gambling game that is played with dominoes. Players bet on how they think the tiles will be arranged after they are shuffled. 

Fan Tan:

Fan Tan is a gambling game that is played using a set of counters and either a table or a cloth. Players place their bets on the layout and the banker will then remove counters one by one until there is only one remaining. 

Sic Bo:

Sic Bo is a dice game that is popular in China. Players bet on the outcome of three dice being thrown, and the winners are determined by the combination of the three dice. 


Keno is a lottery-style game that is played in China. Players mark their picks on a ticket and then wait for a draw to determine the winners.


Gambling in China is generally frowned upon by the government. 

Despite the restrictions, gambling remains an important part of Chinese culture and is often used as a way to bring people together.

With that, I’ll leave you guys with a small SOS- Gambling can be addictive and has the potential to cause harm if not done responsibly.

It is important to be aware of the risks associated with gambling and to practice responsible gambling behavior.

professor samuel rodriguez
Professor Samuel Rodriguez

Professor Samuel Rodriguez, armed with a Ph.D. in Cultural History from Oxford University, embodies the essence of casino gaming history. His expertise spans civilizations, tracing the intricate evolution of gambling through centuries. His scholarly pursuits have uncovered the origins, cultural influences, and transformations of popular casino games, enriching our understanding of their historical significance. As an esteemed speaker at international conferences, Professor Rodriguez shares his profound insights into the diverse tapestry of casino gaming history, captivating audiences with his in-depth knowledge.

Articles: 9

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *