China’s lottery industry hit an all-time volume record in 2023, racking up a 36.5 percent increase in sales to $81bn on the back of an aggressive sports-betting market.
The total sales figure of 579.7bn yuan ($81bn) easily surpassed the previous record of 511.5bn yuan set in 2018, in a time before extensive crackdowns on Welfare Lottery governance and years of pandemic disruption dragged down the market.
But now all but free of pandemic restrictions and market impediments, sports betting further cemented its role as driver of industry growth in 2023, with 36.2 percent growth in sales to 246.5bn yuan, a new record.
Sports betting accounted for 42.5 percent of the total market, just shy of the 2022 record of 42.6 percent.
Meanwhile, lotto product sales across both Welfare Lottery and Sports Lottery networks grew by a solid 13.8 percent to 176.8bn yuan, ending a four-year streak of annual declines for the formerly dominant segment.
Annual sports-betting sales passed annual lotto sales in 2022 for the first time.
The success of sports betting also pushed overall Sports Lottery sales (385.3bn yuan) to almost twice those of the Welfare Lottery (194.4bn yuan), just six years after the Sports Lottery took the lead in sales.
The momentum of the Chinese lottery market is all the more remarkable for beating the high base of 2022, which had been boosted by the FIFA World Cup at the end of the year.
Previous years have seen post-World Cup sales fall, producing four-year spikes in total annual sales. In 2023, however, the spike lasted only months, with total sales recovering to a consistent rate of around 50bn yuan per month.
In other segments, sales of instant lotteries jumped 100.2 percent in 2023 to 119bn yuan, or 20.5 percent of the total market, and within striking range of lotto products (30.5 percent of the market) for the first time.
Almost all of the remaining 6.5 percent of the total market was claimed by keno products, whose sales grew 29.6 percent to 37.4bn yuan.
Operation of video lottery terminals (VLTs), the most aggressive segment in the market before the explosive rise of sports betting, remained hamstrung by regulatory restrictions and only 1.53m yuan ($215,000) in sales were reported for the year.