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58


Gaming


Game on W


uhan will soon host a regular Saturday-afternoon horserac- ing programme where gam-


bling wagers are not part of the propo- sition. “People can win small prizes if they


correctly guess which horse will win the race but they can’t bet on horses like peo- ple do during Hong Kong horse racing,” Liu Hongqing, spokesperson of Wuhan’s Orient Lucky City horse-racing course told the China Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party. “We are still at the planning stage


of the competition such as inviting horse owners nationwide to join the competi- tion. The  rst race will take place after August.” The move, allowing racing in the


capital city of central Hubei province is a turnaround. Horseracing has been banned since 1949, although some ex-


Horseracing – minus betting – okayed for mainland, reversing a six-decade ban


periments to reintroduce it have taken place. Police shut down a number of racecourses in an anti-gambling cam- paign as recently as 2000. Only Hong Kong and Macau have


mature horseracing industries in China, complete with a well-established legal and policy framework for betting. In the mainland, a renewed interest


in horseracing has translated into sizable investments in the construction of rac- ing venues, supported by a fast-growing breeding industry. Beijing’s central sports administra-


tion has stressed that the government- backed horseracing programme in Wu- han will not allow any form of gambling. “The General Administration of Sport resolutely opposes any form of gambling behaviour


competition or traditional horseracing event,” the agency said on its website. According to the China Daily, the


Chinese racing industry argues that le- galising on-track betting could generate up to three million jobs and reduce il- legal betting. It could also generate tax revenue. Managed by the Orient Lucky Horse


Group, the Wuhan races will be over- seen by the Chinese Equestrian Associa- tion and involve four to six races every Saturday, with  elds of 10 to 12 horses in each. On major festival occasions, ex- tra racing days will be designated. Prize money will be awarded to the


relating to sports activities,


and has never approved any form of bet- ting activity in any Olympic equestrian


owner of the horse that wins each race. The amount and the source of the prize money are under discussion. All races will be televised live in the


mainland and possibly broadcast on the Internet, with printed racing guides.


JULY 2011


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