China Lotteries Enjoy World Cup Boom

Online and mobile sales are driving China’s legal Sports Lottery toward its best World Cup ever. The first day of betting saw revenues of US$24 million, easily surpassing the first day of the 2010 tournament, and that’s just a fraction of the illegal market, which is estimated to exceed $95 billion a year.

China’s National Sports Lottery Management Center reports that an expanded range of betting types and online and mobile platforms boosted sales nearly fivefold on the first day of World Cup wagering last Friday.

The day’s sales exceeded RMB150 million (US$24.1 million), the center said, dwarfing the RMB22 million recorded on the first day of the 2010 tournament.

Historically, China’s state-sanctioned Sports and Welfare lotteries have experienced growth of 25 to 30 percent in World Cup years, notably enhanced in recent times by a boom in online wagering and a growing variety of game choices that has risen to meet it. Online sales rose nearly 63 percent last year to RMB42 billion—about 20 percent achieved via mobile devices—and expectations are that online sales alone will top RMB60 billion this year.

The Ministry of Finance reported total lottery sales rose 12.6 percent in May to RMB30.8 billion ($5 billion). Welfare lottery sales were up 16.2 percent while sports lottery sales rose 8.2 percent. Through the first five months of the year, total sales are up 13.9 percent to RMB142.4 billion.

That’s just a fraction of the illegal market, which the China Center for Lottery Studies at Peking University pegs at around US$97 billion a year, or 15 times the total wagered legally.