Wednesday July 2,2014 : DOES CHINA REALLY GENERATE $97 BILLION IN ANNUAL ONLINE BETTING?
Doubts over claims from Peking University.
Online gambling observers are currently scratching their heads over claims from a research unit at Peking University that Chinese punters spend around 600 billion yuan ($97 billion) annually on foreign online gambling sites – many times over the accepted estimates on the size of the global online gambling market.
It's not the first time the Chinese university has sparked debate; back in 2006 it suggested that 700 billion yuan ($87.5 billion) was leaving the country in illegal gambling cash, mainly through Internet betting, underground casinos and private lotteries, according to researcher Wang Xuehong in an interview with the Xinhua news agency in which she called for legalization.
"The market is there and gambling is part of human nature," said Wang, then head of the China Center for Lottery Studies at Peking University. "If the choice of legalised products is too limited the majority will be forced underground," she warned.
China banned gambling after the Communists swept to power in 1949. State-sanctioned lotteries operate, but legal gambling revenues are dwarfed by black market takings.
Confusing the situation even further, the publication Want China Times this week quoted figures that stretched credibility even further, claiming that a recent probe by the same Peking University revealed that the money involved in online soccer gambling overseas had topped 1 trillion yuan ($161 billion) annually, or 15 times that spent on the legal national sports lottery, or 2 percent of the country's GDP last year.
The latest figures come against a background of soaring wagering figures at China's limited number of sports lotteries, especially in recent weeks when World Cup football has ignited the market. With its vast population, only a relatively small segment of China's teeming masses need wager to create huge turnover volumes.