China and Iran’s Stance against Gambling and Online Gambling

China and Iran's Stance against Gambling and Online Gambling

Gambling, whether online gambling or land-based, is one of the most popular activities around the world. It grew to become a multi-billion dollar industry with many regulated markets across the globe. Some of these regulated regions include the New Zealand Online casino market and the United Kingdom, which offers some of the best online casinos in the world.. Despite being one of the oldest forms of entertainment in the world, there are some regions and countries around the world that consider such activity illegal. There are many reasons behind that. They can be religious reasons, political or economic reasons. Two of the most controversial countries that prohibit gambling are China and Iran.

China's Stance Regarding Gambling and Online Gambling

According to Chinese Law, gambling in all of its forms is illegal. It has been outlawed ever since the Communist Party's reign began in China back in 1949. Therefore, all types of gambling, including online gambling, overseas gambling, as well as foreign casinos that target Chinese players, are illegal. On the other hand, Chinese citizens can participate in state-run lotteries. They can also travel to legal gambling centers that are overseas. A lot of VIP Chinese players also go to Special Administrative Regions such as Macau and Hong Kong so they can access gaming through proxy betting or at land-based casinos.

State Ran Lotteries in the Chinese Mainland and Illegal Gambling

The government of China operates the Sports Lottery and the Welfare Lottery since 1994 and 1987, respectively. The reason behind it is that the Chinese government does not consider lotteries as a form of gambling. Therefore, it considers it a legal activity. Despite these two lotteries, there are plenty of unofficial lotteries as well as clandestine casinos that run illegal gambling operations. According to the report by the Daily Telegraph of the UK in 2010, more than one trillion Yuan are involved in illegal gambling activities every year.

Failed Attempts to Legalize Online Gambling in China

There have been plenty of attempts in China to legalize online gambling. Many have tried to make it legal to establish online casinos in China in the Mainland, but they were all unsuccessful. In fact, in June of 2018, the government moved against online gambling effectively by banning all types of online poker apps. The App stores had to remove all of these applications. That is not all, as all the promotions via social media in China that promote online gambling and poker apps became illegal as well.

Legal Outlets for Chinese Gamblers – Online Gambling and Offline Gambling

Since gambling is a popular activity, Chinese players who do not want to engage in illegal activities have a few outlets in China.

Hong Kong:

While there are some aspects of the Chinese law that applies to Hong Kong, but it is a Special Administrative Region. There are specific types of gambling that are regulated and legal in Hong Kong. The law in HK is based on the English Common Law, as it has been a British territory until 1997. Therefore, online gambling and regular gambling are legal, and HK have regulated and licensed it since 1977. The HK Jockey Club is the entity responsible for much of the legal betting in this region.


Macau was a Portuguese colony since the 1850s, and gambling has been legal ever since. The region has a lot of history of betting on traditional Chinese casino games. Most of the betting takes place in western-styled casinos, as well as online gambling. Macau also succeeded in overtaking the Las Vegas strip in terms of gaming revenues. The annual gambling income of Macau is more than 27.9 billion dollars, with more than 38 operational casinos.

Offshore Forms of Gambling:

Due to the legal prohibitions on gambling in the Mainland of China, online gambling and overseas gambling has seen a lot of growth. Many Chinese players place bet on online gambling websites, and they can travel to integrated resorts in Vietnam, Korea as well as the Philippines to enjoy gambling.

Online Gambling and Betting by Proxy:

For those who don't have the time to go to an offshore casino physically, they can use proxy betting. It is becoming a highly popular activity, especially amongst the VIP clients who want to place huge stakes discreetly.  They will communicate with the staff wearing headsets at Baccarat tables at offshore venues, and they will be their proxies in placing the wagers. Although this form of gambling is not legal in Macau since 2016, and it was never licensed in Singapore or Australian casinos, it accounts for more than 40% of the VIP gaming market in the Philippines.

Online Gambling in China:

Online gambling is illegal in the Mainland. On the other hand, internet routed through VPNs, in addition to underground banking options and payment methods enable Mainland Chinese players to access online gambling sites. According to estimations in 2019, the annual amount of wagers on online gambling in Chine is more than one trillion Yuan.

China's Punishment for Online Gambling and Gambling

Since the 1950s, mainland China has a program it followed, which is re-education through labor to punish minor offenses. These offenses include fraud, prostitution, illegal drug use, and gambling. There is a select committee under the authority of the police that issues the sentencing. As a defendant, you will have the right to get an attorney, seek repeal or litigate against the committee, but the rate of success against the sentences is not that common.

On the other hand, most of the time, the actual practice of the authorities in China is to apply a fine to casual gamblers. The government uses the media to report thousands and millions of arrests due to gambling. The sensationalized reporting is to scare the Chinese people to believe that the authorities are often detaining and arresting the casual gamblers to stop them from gambling, which is not usually the case.

In Hong Kong, while gambling is legal in many forms, it is illegal to run wagering or bookmaking operations without authorization. It is also unlawful for residents or visitors to place bets at those bookmakers, even if they are offshore. The penalties in Hong Kong for engaging in business with illegal or offshore bookmakers include prison time of 9 months, as well as a $30k fine. Other than that, the government vigorously investigates and severely punishes groups and personnel that organize and entice Chinese tourists or residents to gamble at offshore casinos.

Gambling In the Islamic Republic of Iran

Gambling in the Islamic Republic of Iran is illegal. There are religious reasons behind it, as is the case in most Islamic nations. The laws of these nations derive from the Sharia and the Quran, which prohibits any form of gambling. Therefore, Iran has no sports betting shops, bingo halls, poker rooms, or casinos. Most of Iranians comply with these rules, as it derives from their beliefs and religions; so private gambling parties and venues are not that common at all, and the underground gambling world does not present any problem to the Iranian government.

Online Gambling In Iran

When it comes to online gambling, it is also illegal, as it falls under the prohibition of gambling. On the other hand, there are no clear laws that specify online gambling. Therefore, Iran prevents any websites that are based in Iran to offer any gambling services; it also tries its best to block foreign casinos from offering gambling services to Iranian residents. That is very hard to control, and this is why there are plenty of online casinos that accept players from Iran. So while the government cracks down hard on Iran-based online betting websites and groups, it is powerless against offshore-based ones as they have no jurisdiction. For example, in October of 2019, the government cracked the whip hard on illegal betting in Iran. They closed down the websites, and all of these involved are now behind bars.

Punishment for Gambling in Iran

As per the penal code of Iran, which is from the Quran and its laws, gambling is illegal. As per the criminal code, those who engage in gambling will be sent to prison for a period between one and six months or get up to 74 lashes. If the gambling act were in public, they would receive both punishments. For those who buy, keep, or carry any gambling tools; they will get up to 3 months of imprisonment or a fine of up 1.5 million Riyals. Also, the authorities confiscate all the money that is involved and will destroy all tools and equipment. All of these punishments show the dangers of gambling in Iran. Therefore, the underground gambling world in Iran is not a flourishing one.

On the other hand, it is highly likely that the Iranian government would pursue and prosecute players who place bets on online offshore gambling websites including UK online casinos. The government focuses more on gambling rings, and sites that run from within the country. So while it is illegal to gamble online on offshore online casinos, it is the less dangerous form of gambling. In all cases, if you reside within Iran, you should be very careful and understand that online gambling. Even betting at foreign casinos, is illegal.

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