BEIJING // The first commercial horse racing event in mainland China since the Communists took power in 1949 will take place in the central city of Wuhan this weekend. Riders will compete for a total of ¥120,000 (Dh64,500) in prize money in four test runs in a newly-built 30,000-seat track. The meeting will pave the way for regular races in the future, expected to be held two days a week, according to the Beijing Evening Post.
The State news agency Xinhua reported earlier this year that the Chinese government was considering legalising gambling on horse races, starting with trials in Wuhan, a centre for horse racing in the early part of last century. But this weekend there will be strictly-limited betting, with only prizes other than cash on offer, the newspaper added. Horse racing reappeared in the early 1990s after being listed among a string of vices, together with gambling in general, and prohibited when the Communists won the Chinese civil war in 1949.
Betting on horse races could be a business that produces three million jobs and generates ¥40bn in tax revenues each year, if given the go-ahead, Xinhua quoted a researcher as saying. Betting on horses is already extremely popular, and legal, in the former British territory of Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. *Reuters