Sports betting in China has the potential to blow the rest of the gambling world out of the water thanks in part to its huge following in the Barclays Premier League and the NBA and Lee Davy tries to uncover the why?
Sports betting in China is big business because of the huge interest in football and basketball. But just why do the Chinese go slightly mental at the sight of these two very different sports?
First to football, and despite always believing that as an Englishman, I could hold my head up high as a countryman from the birth of football, I was rather dismayed to learn that the game was in fact born in China.
The Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA) officially list cuju as the earliest form of football for which scientific evidence exists. Existing in China during the 2nd and 3rd century BC there are even poems stretching back to 206 BC – 220 AD Han Dynasty about betting on sports.
So it would seem that the Chinese actually own the rights to the game of football and have been betting on it for over 2,000 years. When you also consider that 20% of the world’s population resides within the Chinese borders, it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to understand why Premier League clubs will purchase absolute garbage Asian players and let them rot on the bench.
The Chinese love a Western superstar, and Chinese footballing exports are at the top of that list, with Dong Fangzhuo (Man Utd), Li Tie (Everton), Li Weifeng (Everton), Sun Jihai (Man City) and Zheng Zhi (Charlton) all representing English clubs in the Premier League, which incidentally is the most viewed football league in the world, thanks to the Asian community.
The government owned Chinese Sports Lottery is the only legal form of gambling allowed in China, and football betting forms the biggest part of that behemoth with many forms of lottery (pools) types bets on offer, as well as single game bets available from betting outfits located outside of the mainland.
The success of the Chinese in Western life is also the reason why basketball is so popular in China. To play in the NBA is the quintessential Chinese dream and one that was realized by Yao Ming who was so successful in the NBA that he was made the countries flag bearer at the opening of the Beijing Olympics.
Ming was also a regular in the NBA All Stars team because it was a vote made by the general public and Ming had the backing of over 300 million fans. It’s believed that when Ming retired in 2011, after nine seasons with the Houston Rockets, that 57% of Chinese refused to watch the game anymore!
Fortunately, along came Jeremy Lin, a Chinese American who came from nowhere to help the New York Knicks secure an unexpected winning streak that led to the global pandemic known as ‘Linsanity’.
The TV screens were switched back on.
Basketball is the second most popularly played sport in China, behind table tennis, and the Chinese national ladies basketball team finished fourth at the 2006 Beijing Olympics.
The profits generated by China Sports Lottery and Welfare lottery are greater than the casino industry in any single country combined.