Ticket sales soar: A look at lotteries and gambling in China

Matthew Calleja 1 year ago
Ticket sales soar: A look at lotteries and gambling in China

In January, China’s Ministry of Finance reported that lottery ticket sales had reached CNY33.22bn, with the surge being largely attributed to the high sales of sports lottery tickets.

Ticket sales on the rise

Lottery ticket sales surge in China throughout January
The Chinese government does not classify
lotteries as gambling despite involving chance
and monetary transactions.

The Ministry of Finance in China has revealed that sales of lottery tickets in January soared to CNY33.22bn, with the growth being largely fueled by the exceptional sales of sports lottery tickets.

In January, the sales of lottery tickets to support welfare systems declined by 22.4 percent compared to the previous year, amounting to 10.84 billion yuan. On the other hand, lottery ticket sales for supporting the sports sector increased by 32.9 percent year-on-year to 22.38 billion yuan.

As per China’s lottery management regulations, the revenue generated from ticket sales is utilised for administrative expenses, funding prizes, and supporting public welfare initiatives.

Uncovering the gambling world in China and beyond

In China, the government operates two lotteries, namely the Welfare Lottery and the Sports Lottery, which were established in 1987 and 1994, respectively. Although they involve chance and monetary transactions, the Chinese Communist government does not legally categorise them as a form of gambling.

This system has been in place despite the fact that the Criminal Code of Republican China has prohibited public gambling and the provision of venues for gamblers to assemble (such as casinos) since 1935. The law states that individuals can play card games with non-currency items such as matchsticks, while citizens are allowed to play games such as mahjong during the Chinese New Year celebrations under “temporary amusement” clauses.

Despite the legal technicalities, many Chinese citizens still partake in gambling activities, whether through the lotteries or underground casinos. These activities have been a source of concern for the government as they can lead to financial ruin for some individuals and also promote illegal activities. As such, the government continues to enforce strict laws against gambling and operates the lotteries under tight regulations.

In Hong Kong, certain forms of gambling are legal and regulated, despite some aspects of mainland Chinese law being applicable in the region. Hong Kong’s legal system is based on English common law, as it was under British rule until 1997. The regulation of gambling in Hong Kong dates back to 1977, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club being responsible for much of the legal betting activity in the area.

Meanwhile, gambling has been legal in Macau since the 1850s, when it was a Portuguese colony. The region has a long history of gambling on traditional Chinese games, and today, it is primarily associated with Western-style casinos. In fact, in 2007, Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip in terms of gaming revenues. As of 2016, there are 38 casinos operating in Macau, generating annual gambling revenues exceeding US$27.9 billion.

Despite legal restrictions on onshore gambling in mainland China, the industry’s growth has been bolstered by the increasing popularity of overseas and online gambling sites catering to Chinese nationals. Countries such as Singapore, Australia, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines have integrated gaming resorts that welcome growing numbers of Chinese tourists. The proliferation of these establishments has raised concerns about the potential negative social and economic impact of gambling, both at home and abroad.

Catch the SiGMA Asia Summit in Manila this July

Over the past few years, the gambling industry in the Philippines, including both land-based and online operations, has experienced rapid growth and is now considered to be a leading hub for gaming in Asia.

Looking to expand its horizons, the SiGMA Group has announced that it will be hosting an event in Manila this year. The event will feature B2B and B2C brands, along with several land-based exhibitors, bringing the group’s vast network in the West closer to Asian suppliers, operators, and affiliates. The event has received endorsement from PAGCOR and is set to take place at the SMX, Manila’s largest expo centre.

Get ahead of the curve and acquaint yourself with the latest updates on our website.

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