China Set to Expand Blacklist of Overseas Casino Tourist Destinations

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China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism is preparing to expand a “blacklist” of overseas tourist destinations it says are attracting Chinese tourists for gambling activities.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua is reporting that the Ministry will create a “second batch” of overseas destinations to be added to a list of nations first unveiled last year.

That original list was announced in August 2020, with the Ministry stating at the time that such destinations were disrupting the nation’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers. It also said the destinations were “endangering the personal and property safety of Chinese citizens.”

While China has not confirmed any destination alleged to be on a blacklist by name, analysts had suggested it was likely pointing to emerging Southeast Asian gaming destinations such as the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam, and potentially Australia.

According to Xinhua, the Ministry “in conjunction with relevant departments” will make a list of the second batch of overseas destinations that attract Chinese tourists for gambling activities, which will be subsequently “added to the system.”

“In order to better regulate the tourism market and safeguard the lives and property of Chinese citizens, the blacklist system was established through concerted efforts of multiple departments, including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security,” Xinhua’s report says.

“Travel restrictions will be imposed on Chinese citizens heading to overseas cities and scenic areas on the list.”

Establishment of the original blacklist last year sparked fierce debate over whether or not Macau might be included. While some analysts have outlined evidence suggesting Macau is indeed in mainland China’s crosshairs, others stated at the time that the SAR could in fact benefit from such a crackdown on other potential gambling destinations.

“In the long term, this move could be seen as ‘ring-fencing’ gambling demand/flow within China, which in turn could drive repatriation of demand to Macau,” said JP Morgan.

“In the near term, it’s inevitable we will see some dent in the pace of VIP recovery given potential collateral damage – junkets/agents who bring players to non-Macau markets are the same ones as those in Macau, and they will most likely keep a low profile for now to avoid any fallout from the clampdown.

“Overall, we would characterize this news as short-term pain for long-term gain for Macau.”

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