China Welcomes Back Horse Racing

When the communist party took control of China in 1949 all forms of gambling, including horse racing, were banned from the country. In 1997, the British ruled region of Hong Kong was returned to the government of China, and here horse racing has become a popular sport. On mainland China, however, the battle to legalize horse racing and wagering has been an ongoing battle. But on Saturday, 29 November 2008, four racing events will be taking place, with small betting amounts being permitted. It is hoped that this could be the start of great things for horse racing, and gambling, in China.

It is estimated that approximately eighty billion dollars is spent in China on either illegal gambling, or gambling overseas. This means that currency worth millions is leaving China every year. Even though the government seems to be becoming a little lenient, the chance of all types of gambling being legalized in the country is very slim. Organizers of Saturday’s event hope that the small amounts of wagering and the successful hosting of the first horse racing event in almost sixty years will pave the way for future horse racing in China.

It has been named the China Speed Horse Race Open and will be hosted by the Orient Lucky City Racecourse located in the city of Wuhan. There will be four racing events on Saturday, with purse money totaling a hundred and twenty yuan. The Orient Lucky City Racecourse has been given the go ahead for a trial run in regard to horse racing and will host live horse racing twice a week, with approximately seven races each day. Wagering on racing will be done through a lottery type system, allowing locals to only make small bets at a time. Many see this system as a problem, as when punters begin to win, they will want to make slightly larger bets.

If horse racing were to be completely legalized in China, the industry would be able to generate a stronger economy in the various regions, decrease illegal gambling, create a market for agricultural industries related to horse racing and see between three to five million people finding employment opportunities within the industry. But for now, the winning jockey of the opening race on Saturday will not only be victorious in the race, but be able to carry the title of the first jockey to win a race on the mainland of China since 1949.