Possible Return of Horse Racing to China

The glitz, glamour and excitement of horse racing has been absent from China since 1949. In a country where gambling is a favorite pastime, many residents in China have resorted to illegal gambling, to partake in a game with Lady Luck. When the communist government came into power in China, many regulations changed, including those related to horse racing, and for years the people of China watched and waited for the day that horse racing would return to their country.

Along with the use of opium, horse racing was seen as a vice by the new government and deemed illegal. Eradicating gambling was the new government’s primary focus, and eventually, the only form of gambling that was allowed was the lottery, which is run by the state. By the early nineties, horse racing started to appear, but in illegal forms and the government even started hunting illegal gambling operations on the Internet.

Now, in an astonishing move, the government has allowed horse racing to take place in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province, at the Orient Lucky City Racecourse. Even though gambling on the horses is still not allowed, it is considered to be a foot in the door by the equestrian community. It has been said that legal gambling on horses and the races will be allowed later in the year, but on a trial basis only.

In Hong Kong and Macao, horse racing is a popular activity and sport, but even if gambling is legalized in the future, there are only about 250 horses and limited jockey clubs at the present time. Betting will only be worthwhile once there are approximately two thousand competitive horses. Small steps are being taken, and it might take a year or two for the government to make their final decision, but it is a window of hope for China and its horse racing community.

Everyone who has a love for horses and the racing industry are hopeful that betting and horseracing will be legalized across China by mid to end 2009. Speculation and enthusiasm is running high through the horse racing industry, while the government remains silent in regard to future plans. But at least there is hope that horse racing will return to China and for now, that it enough.