The Chinese lottery market has stormed back from pandemic damage and political troubles with more than a 50 percent growth year-on-year in the first half of 2023, setting it on course to easily break 2018’s annual sales record.
Lottery sales for the first six months of 2023 reached 273.9bn yuan ($38.3bn), up 50.4 percent on the first six months of 2022, powered by four consecutive months of greater than 50 percent growth year-on-year, according to finance ministry figures released on Monday (July 31).
The figures suggest China will set a record lottery sales result in the vicinity of $80bn in 2023, with the half-year figure almost 12 percent ahead of the corresponding haul of 245.2bn yuan in 2018.
China remains the world’s second-largest national lottery market after the United States, which enjoyed a surge in custom in 2021 that pushed stateside sales well past the $100bn mark.
June’s figures in China continued not only the trend of aggressive overall growth, but also that of the widening growth gap between the once-insurmountable Welfare Lottery, which is dominated by lotto products, and the Sports Lottery, which is driven by sports betting, now the industry’s largest segment.
Sports-betting sales in June grew 83.9 percent year-on-year to 19.2bn yuan, with first-half growth at 110.3 percent.
Lotto products by comparison grew a modest 11.7 percent to 14.6bn yuan for July, with first-half growth trailing at 10.5 percent.
Sports betting flowered in China over the course of several four-year cycles punctuated by FIFA World Cup football tournaments, which served to turbo-charge sales and to retain new customers.
The sports-betting segment has also been free of the product constraints suffered by the Welfare Lottery, such as low return to player ceilings and heavy limits on draw frequency. At the same time, political and criminal incidents have beset the Welfare Lottery’s supervising organ, the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
For the two wider lottery modes in June, Sports Lottery sales (inclusive of sports betting) rose 62.4 percent year-on-year to 30.7bn yuan, while Welfare Lottery sales rose 37.9 percent year-on-year to 18bn yuan.
For the half-year, Sports Lottery sales were up 71.7 percent to 184.1bn yuan compared with first-half 2022, while Welfare Lottery sales were up 20 percent to 89.8bn yuan.
Minor lottery segment sales for the first half of the year were 51bn yuan for instant lotteries (scratchies), up 51.5 percent, and 16.5bn yuan for Keno products, up 18 percent.