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How has government legislation impacted the gaming and gambling industries in China?


The perception of the gaming and gambling industries varies greatly across the globe. In the UK, for example, there are many opportunities for people to bet on sports, and slot machines can be found in most traditional pubs. On the other hand, in China, all forms of gambling aside from state-run lotteries are banned. While not everybody will view the activity negatively, it means that its associations are taboo in the country.

Despite this, China’s video game industry is one of the biggest in the world. Many see it as unfortunate that legislation has resulted in the industry not being able to reach the heights of its potential. In this article, we explore a brief history of the gambling and gaming industries in China and analyze the impact of government legislation.

The gambling scene in China

Gambling was outlawed in China in 1949. Today, only the administrative areas of Kong and Macau have a form of legalized gambling, and some give Macau the affectionate nickname of Las Vegas of the East. In 2018, gambling revenue in the area reached around $37 billion, highlighting how popular the destination has become for fans of casinos in China.

As well as banning land-based gambling activity, the Chinese Government also made online poker illegal, as well as any promotion of the game. This is often a way for governments to change the public perception of an activity, but the public may not have changed their minds just yet.

What else are people playing?

As previously mentioned, video games are also very popular in China. Like many other parts of the world, they have become a mainstream activity. One of their most popular games is Fantasy Westward Journey, an MMORPG that was first released for Microsoft Windows in 2001, and has retained a cult following in China since. The popularity of this game could be down to it being inspired by the classic novel Journey to the West.

Despite video games being hugely popular, new legislation has seen many smaller studios and other companies leave the industry. In 2021, the government stopped issuing licenses for new games. This was seen as a clear message against the industry and was reportedly sent to curb problematic gaming.

The impact of government relaxing its rules

Gambling has remained popular despite the obvious limitations placed on it as an activity. Should we start to see some of the laws relaxed, it will only become more popular across the general population.

As for the video game industry, this could evolve quite rapidly in China. However, this evolution would require some of the licensing laws for new games to be altered. This could result in the industry thriving. If we begin to see an increase in developers from China, and perhaps games set in around the country, the Chinese video games industry could become the envy of the world.