With Chinese gambling laws basically outlawing casinos everywhere except Macau, gamblers in the country have had to bide their time for an alternative. Yet with the popularity of gambling soaring despite the government’s strict laws, there is a new player in town: the floating casino.
Boats are leaving Hong Kong every night to offer casino gambling to Chinese clients in international waters. Avoiding the government’s stare, they’re able to function at a fraction of the cost of the giant Macau casinos as they don’t have to pay the huge 39% tax their land based counterparts do.
Despite these massive taxes, Macau casinos continue to have unprecedented success, with 14 million tourists visiting the tiny city in the first half of 2013. Hotel prices have shot past those of Las Vegas and casino bosses are happy to see the Hong Kong floating casinos continue, despite the competition these mobile casinos provide.
Ambrose So, from SJM Holdings, expanded on this, saying: “The pie is growing bigger and some money overflows there.”
It’s no surprise that Chinese gamblers are snapping up any opportunity to gamble, considering the tight laws in place. With recent crack downs – including a million yuan a day underground casino recently raided in Shanghai – gamblers are looking to the future and the potential for regulation.
With no legal online casinos in China, gamblers are taking advantage of these casino boats while they still can. As no extra visa is needed to board the boats, many businessmen are taking a trip to Hong Kong rather than Macau, to disguise their gambling habits. With Macau closely monitored by the government, these floating casinos are seen as a great way to avoid the government’s eye.
Meanwhile, with the new gambling zone in Primorye, Russia, gamblers from the north of China will get an opportunity to spread their betting wings and escape the tight regulation of their homeland. Russia will be hoping that Chinese gamblers take to the new zone as a second home, while gamblers in the region will be rejoicing.