The lottery is an almost universal concept. In countries all across the world, people take part in the lottery every week, hoping to win it big and receive a life-changing sum of money. Some of these lotteries have prizes in the region of a few billion dollars. Now the world’s second-largest lottery is setting its sights even higher.
Details of Chinese gambling
China currently leads the world in population, but the country is still second on the list when it comes to the largest lotteries. Currently, the El Gordo lottery in Spain has the top spot, with pay-outs having reached $4bn (£3bn) for individual winners.
China has two significant lotteries for their citizens to choose from. The China Sports Lottery provides funding for Chinese sports organizations and athletes. The country invests heavily in their sporting programs with the hope of churning out more and more Olympic champions.
The other lottery in China is called the Welfare Lottery, which funds social programs. Both of these lotteries will get an even bigger boost in their player base as the Chinese government battles against illegal gambling while simultaneously promoting and expanding the legal gambling sector.
Gambling is not really legal in China, but the government does not consider the lottery to be gambling. People are allowed to gamble legally in certain special regions such as Macau and Hong Kong. There were attempts in recent years to introduce legalized casinos in the country, but they all failed to materialize. The latest crackdown on the gambling sector in the country was the closure of all types of online poker earlier this month.
Lottery performance in China
The Welfare Lottery operates like any other number system, but this is not the case for the Sports Lottery. That lottery is based on participants’ attempts to forecast the results of sporting events, such as football games.
Statistics released recently for the first quarter of this year showed a rise in lottery revenues to $17bn (£12.9m) mark, which is an 18% increase over the same period in 2017. With the FIFA World Cup now going on, it is expected that revenues will be significantly higher in the Sports Lottery.
For example, during the last World Cup in 2014, this single event was responsible for $6bn (£4.5bn) worth of lottery ticket sales by itself. The government in China is pushing people towards using gambling as a recreational activity, as well as fulfilling their patriotic duty and helping to support the various sporting programs. The same principles are pushed for the Welfare Lottery.
Illegal gambling crackdown
Many stories have been written recently about the crackdown on illegal gambling rings all across Asia. The FIFA World Cup is an event that is always extremely lucrative for illegal gambling rings, which is why the authorities have been especially targeting these rings lately. China doesn’t want valuable revenue for their sporting programs to be diverted into the hands of illegal operators.
Illegal gambling has always been around but, with the level of intelligence and technology available to governments, it is becoming ever harder for these illegal offerings to survive. Many arrests have been made and millions of dollars have been seized in recent weeks.
There was one raid recently in the South of China in which $63m (£47.8m) was seized and more than 150 people were arrested. This came not long after $55m (£41.7m) in illegal gambling was seized following the closure of 13 online gambling sites.
In March 2015, a ban was placed on online ticket sales after there were allegations that administrators of the lottery on a provincial level had misused funds worth $2.8bn (£2.12bn). There are indications that this ban could be lifted soon, which would only add to revenues because it will become even easier for people to buy tickets.
The Chinese government is clearly planning on taking its lotteries to the next level with this crackdown and it would be no surprise to anyone if they became the top two largest lotteries in the world.
With casinos and different types of gaming allowed on the island of Macau, along with plans to legalize gambling on the island of Hainan, massive revenues will continue coming into the country from gambling, whether directly or indirectly.