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Chinas secret gambling problem

When the Communist party took power in China in 1949, they outlawed gambling of any kind on the mainland. You wouldn’t know it today however as gambling in China is more widespread than it’s ever been.

One of the reasons is that incomes in China have been rising steadily over the last two decades and, with new technology that makes gambling easier like online betting websites such as M88bet or Sbobet, gambling in China has sprouted quicker than mushrooms in the dark.

Today there are only two lotteries that are officially sanctioned in the country but it’s estimated that over 1 trillion Chinese Yaun, the equivalent of £900 million, is being wagered yearly, a number that’s equal to Beijing’s total economic output. It’s even more amazing when you consider the fact that over half the population of the country makes an average income of only 4,700 Yuan (£415) a year.

Practically everywhere you look in China you’ll find  illegal gambling, including underground casinos, unofficial lotteries, mah-jongg schools on street corners and of course online gambling websites, all of which has caused a problem that communist leaders in China stubbornly refuse to admit; they now have a huge gambling addiction problem in their country.

“Based on international statistics for countries with developed gaming industries, two or three per cent of gamblers have a problem,” said Wang Xuehong, director of Peking University’s Centre for Lottery Studies, who is studying China’s problem gamblers.

In 2013 alone over 600,000 people were caught gambling and arrested. Even worse, a Chinese person who admits that they need help for a gambling addiction will, in most cases, face being confined in a mental institute or hospital. Not surprisingly, most gambling addicts in China prefer not to go public with their gambling problem.

For years Xuehong, a professor at Peeking University, has been trying to persuade the municipal government of Beijing to allow her to open a center for gambling addiction, but unfortunately she’s so far been unsuccessful. What they have allowed her to do however is set up a helpline for problem gamblers, the first in the country.

Incredibly, even though she is banned from advertising the helpline’s telephone number, she and her staff are overwhelmed by calls from gambling addicts.

If you ask her, Xuehong will tell you that taking care of the gambling problem in her country is not something her government has very high on their “to do” list. “Many calls are from people addicted to buying lottery tickets,” she said. “These are people who are going bankrupt, who have been divorced by their partners, who want to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, Xuehong believes that her government would rather “save face” then admit they caused a problem for their own society.  Until they do, unfortunately, the problem is sure to get worse.