All bets are off as China lifts horse racing ban

China has lifted a 60-year ban on horse racing, allowing weekly races to be conducted in the central city of Wuhan - but no betting will be permitted.

Authorities banned racing after the 1949 revolution as part of a clamp down on luxury and decadence.

Apart from the state lottery, nearly all forms of betting remain out of bounds for the Chinese, traditionally big gamblers.

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Both Hong Kong and Macau already boast a thriving racing industry and the latter also hosts dozens of casinos.

Racing in Wuhan, the first city to host a commercial race in 2008, will now take place from late August, the China Daily reported this weekend, and broadcast live.

Ten to 12 horses will be entered in four to six races and more than 200 owners have already decided to participate.

"People can win small prizes if they correctly guess which horse will win the race, but they can't bet on horses like people do during Hong Kong horse racing," Liu Hongqing, spokesperson of Wuhan's Orient Lucky City race course told the newspaper.

The races will be organised by the Hubei provincial government and run by Hong Kong-based Orient Lucky Horse Industry.