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The Casino Bar recently opened in the beginning of this year at the Mangrove Tree Resort in Sanya Bay. It was shortly closed down again for undisclosed reasons but appears to be opening again as they are looking for a casino manager.
Inside the Macau-inspired gaming hall, with 50 tables, punters could play Baccarat, Black Jack, Poker and Sic Bo (Big & Small) enjoying all-purse betting limits ranging from as low as RMB20 (US$3) to as high as 100,000 (US$16,300,000) at VIP tables.
One Mangrove chip costs RMB1, but chips cannot be cashed out, only traded for accommodation, luxury goods, jewelry and artwork for sale at the resort.
The bar is 30,000 sq. m, designed to look like a casino and features the same licensing practices and rules as casinos in Macau.
For the time being, gamblers do not win cash prizes; their winnings can only go toward their stay in the hotel or purchase of luxury goods at the hotel store.
Gambling is currently only open to hotel guests, however locals will be allowed to gamble too once the project is completed. The local government is very supportive of the project, and is in the process of making changes to the current regulations that prohibit gambling. The Casino Bar marks the first time the Chinese government has experimented with developing a gambling industry in the mainland.
However, a company in Sanya, Hainan Province, which drew worldwide attention from investors after it was reported to be running a cashless casino, the first of its kind in China, denied the claims, saying that it was just an ordinary bar.
"We know that gambling is forbidden in China, so what we have in the resort is just a bar with drinks and other entertainment," said a media officer surnamed Wang from the Antaeus Group, reported to be behind the cashless casino in the Mangrove Tree Resort World, the company's newly opened resort hotel in Sanya.
Wang explained the bar had merely adopted the decoration and service style of a casino, which has become popular with many consumers. "There is no gambling here."
Sanya's remote position as the "tail of the dragon" has historically made it difficult to reach. Only one large road connects Sanya to the mainland and the traffic can become very heavy in peak hours. The construction of a railway station has eased the journey for many visitors, who can skip the traffic by arriving by train.
Sanya has been inhabited for over 10,000 years; however, Chinese have inhabited the area since the Qin Dynasty. During the Han dynasty, the Li people arrived from Guangxi province. For many centuries, the island was designated as a place for exiles, one of the most famous of whom was the poet Su Dong Po (1036-1101). Systematic Han settlement began during the Song dynasty, and large-scale migration of Han from Fujian and Guangdong took place during the Qing Dynasty, forcing the Li people into the highlands. At that time, Hainan Island was used as a strategic military outpost to combat the French. During the Sino-Japanese War, the locals fought a guerilla campaign against the Japanese.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Hainan Special Administrative Area was established. Hainan Island is considered the youngest province in China since it was established in 1988. During the opening up to the west in the early 1980s, Hainan Island became a special economic zone where free market economies quickly took hold and Hong Kong investment began pouring in. Sanya has benefited from central and local government initiatives aimed at developing Hainan Island's vast potential for tourism.
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