China is taking slow and cautious steps towards unlocking its huge betting market, the Economist reports. Gamblers at a Wuhan racecourse recently became the first people allowed to try their luck on the horses since the Communists outlawed gambling in 1949—although a winning pick only rewarded customers 20 lottery scratch cards and a chance of scoring $4,500.
One researcher says a horse betting industry would create millions of jobs and help Beijing reclaim some of the estimated $700 billion lost to illegal gambling. Hardliners still label gambling an immoral throwback to colonial times, although Wuhan's newly converted racegoers dismiss the morality debate. "No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat," said one.