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Chinese Free Trade Zone Hainan Remains Cold to Casino Prospects, Horse Racing

The Chinese island province of Hainan has quite the potential to boost the national economy, which was further solidified by the recent announcement that from here on out the area has an official Free Trade Zone status, welcoming international investment. However, soon after the news became public it has been further specified that the southern region would not feature casino venues or gambling in any form, as they do not align with China’s status quo.

Wednesday was a notable day for China, as the southern province witnessed the special status being granted, which is guaranteed to draw foreign investors and companies willing to explore a new market. Both agriculture and medical services would have the chance to operate under more flexible regulation by setting foot on the island.

It could be recalled that the month of April saw President Xi Jinping introduce a set of measures which aimed to elevate the region with new offerings, but following months of discussion scrapped some of the originally proposed plans.

Cold-Hearted Hainan Scraps Gambling Plans

Along the plan’s lines, new measures were considered to the liking of a free trade port and development in the tourism field. At that point of the discussion, sports lotteries and horse racing were still on the table, as they have proven their potential to attract both tourists and international companies. As a result of this move, Hainan could have become an alternative to the booming gaming hub of Macau, known as the sole place within China’s territory where gambling is considered legal.

However, most recent news coming amid a trade war with the US sheds more light to the opening up towards foreign companies. It has been clarified that international casino developers and operators would not find a spot on Hainan at this point. Liu Cigui, Communist Party Secretary of Hainan province, stated that no gambling would be introduced to China’s Hawaii. Gambling crackdown has been in full swing over the past five years.

Back in 2010, it was reported that $146 billion was spent on illegal gaming annually. Its legalization on the island could capitalize on people’s interest towards it and reinvest in the community, but the government considers such move unnecessary. There are no plans for either land-based casino operation or online gambling; horse races and betting on them also remains prohibited within the island province.

2020 Eyed as an Important Year

Companies entering the field would have the chance to operate across the 35,400 square kilometers of the island, providing each potential company with the freedom to develop as deemed appropriate. The year 2020 is eyed as the year in which Hainan could see the benefits of this new FTZ status. China is willing to see improvement in sectors such as medical care, new energy vehicles manufacturing, seed production, as well as aviation, which would be further facilitated by the operation of HNA Group.

The local government will be able to provide value-added telecom services with the needed licensing for operation. Up until now, Beijing’s government was the sole authority issuing such permits. These new regulations are projected to have a liberating effect on the field and potentially bring investors based in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region.

In the months leading to this announcement, many provided a piece of their mind, claiming that the introduction of regulated gambling to the island in addition to the sandy beaches and overall attractiveness of the location could have an excellent impact on the island. Tourists would be drawn both by the premium resorts and the gaming offerings provided. One of the biggest roadblocks for this development is the currently limited Internet access, which ultimately put an end to the discussion for the time being.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.