China’s VPN crackdown is bad news for those accessing online casinos and betting

  • Private networks allow China citizens to access banned sites
  • Government wants to close all unlicensed VPNs by 2018

The Chinese authorities have taken aim at the uncontrolled internet once more and that means bad news for citizens circumventing the Great Firewall of China to access online casinos.

China's upcoming ban on VPNs is bad news for those accessing online casinos in the country.
China’s upcoming ban on VPNs is bad news for those accessing online casinos in the country. Picture: Thinkstock

In announcing the blocking of almost all Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Chinese authorities will stop access to external news and media sources, to retail and trade, as well as popular casino and betting websites which are illegal on the Chinese mainland.

China’s strict internet policy

China has a long history of controlling its citizens’ access to information, and it has one of the most securely managed and limited internet networks in the world. Popular social media and search sites like Facebook and Google are prohibited in the country.

The government’s tight controls over the internet are aimed at keeping a tight rein over citizens themselves.

However, many Chinese residents get around internet laws using VPNs. These are secure, encrypted internet connections that can be accessed only by connected machines. These VPNs can skirt around the laws that keep top websites on the block list by freeing the user from geo restrictions – giving residents of the country access to the wider global internet, rather than just the state-controlled pages.

In order to regain control of the web, President Xi Jinping’s administration will require all non-authorized VPNs to submit to licensing and state data sharing – or to close down with immediate effect. The crackdown began earlier this year and is expected to continue into 2018, with some impact already noticed in the form of slower VPN connections.

Impact on gambling industry

Gambling is prohibited on the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong and Macau are designated as special administrative districts and gambling is decriminalized there, though there are still some state controls on how and when Chinese citizens are allowed to access gambling services.

Indeed, China’s VIP players will travel as far as Australia and even the USA in order to enjoy unrestricted gambling.

But less mobile players use VPNs to access casino and betting sites online.

Using closed networks can allow residents to circumnavigate state controls and reach offshore sites, through which they can place sports bets or access table games and slot games.

The illegal gaming market was estimated at one trillion yuan back in 2010 – any shutdown of VPNs will have a significant impact on this blossoming market.

This could harm any budding casino and betting industry in the long term, which is trying to prove its economic worth to the Chinese authorities, although the road is expected to be a long one.

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