China will support the development of horse racing and other projects including beach and water sports in Hainan, according to a reform agenda approved by China’s cabinet and announced in the official Xinhua News Agency Saturday.
Any shift in China’s approach toward gambling could end up threatening the USD 33 billion casino industry in Macao - the world’s largest gaming center - as well as other casino hubs in Asia. Macao has been shifting to attract Chinese tourists and families to the territory, which is the same market that Hainan currently draws.
The moves were part of a package of reforms unveiled while Xi visited the island, which is often called “China’s Hawaii.” Hainan will adopt more open duty-free shopping policies, boost the number of international flights and and prioritize tourism.
Any move to ramp up tourism in Hainan or open it up to gambling would reverberate within the global travel industry. Chinese jetsetters take about 130 million trips overseas each year, the government estimates, spending lavishly from Las Vegas to Bali and Paris.
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