What are the most popular forms of gambling in China?

Although many forms of gambling are illegal in Mainland China, the country has a long and rich gambling history stretching back more than a thousand years. Furthermore, because Hong Kong and Macau are separate administrative regions run according to English and Portuguese law respectively, legal gambling exists in many forms in these areas. Let's take a look at the most popular games in China and where they are played.


Mahjong is a traditional Chinese game developed during the Qing dynasty. It is played with 144 tiles which were originally made of bone but are now constructed from bakelite or nylon.

Like traditional playing cards, Mahjong tiles have different suits and values. Players must try to make a 14-tile winning hand (or 'Mahjong') with a combination of melds which are matching sets of tiles or sequences (similar to a straight in poker). Players take it in turns to deal until 16 rounds have been played with the player who has amassed the most points winning the cash-pot.

Online Gaming

Online gaming in China is a gigantic business that is growing exponentially. This phenomenon can be ex-plained by China's 457 million internet users, many of whom are young urbanites with disposable income. Chinese gamers are often attracted to the sense of community and large range of modern slot games at online casinos such as Slots Baby, while others prefer to play traditional games online such as Mahjong and Pai Gow.


There are two legal lotteries in mainland China: the China Welfare Lottery established in 1987 and the China Sports Lottery. The China Welfare Lottery offers players a choice of three games - Double Colour Ball with massive cash prizes, a daily lottery called 3D Lottery which pays out for correct number sequences and Lucky 7 where the aim is to match seven numbers from a choice of 30. A percentage of every ticket bought helps to fund social welfare projects throughout China.

The China Sports Lottery also offers several games, including a Football Lottery which lets players bet on the outcome of major international football games.


There is no doubt that casinos are a contentious issue in China. In 2017 the state government launched a crackdown on casino operators in mainland China resulting in multiple jail terms. However, the Chinese territory of Macau is one of the world's largest gambling hubs earning it a reputation as the 'Monte Carlo of the Orient.' Many of the top 10 casinos in the world can't access this market.

It's not hard to see why when you look at the number of casinos that have sprung up throughout Macau in recent years, including the MGM Macau, Wynn Macau, The Venetian Macao and Greek Mythology Casino - all of which are open 24 hours a day. The choice of games is also unparalleled with the the MGM Macau alone offering players a choice of 1,271 gaming machines and 427 table games.