China Test-Runs 'Immoral' Horse Betting

Horse racing returns to mainland for first time since Communist victory
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2009 11:02 AM CST
Chinese spectators watch a trial horse racing event in which they could bet on four races at the Orient Lucky City racecourse in Wuhan, China, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008.    (AP Photo/Color China Photo)
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(Newser) – 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.