Chinese World Cup betting could top $7.5bn
Chinese betting on the FIFA World Cup via the country’s Sports Lottery could be worth $7.5bn (€6.5bn), with billions more set to be wagered via illegal gambling.
Figures obtained by the Australian Financial Review show that around $4bn was wagered during the first two weeks of Russia 2018 – just less than a quarter of the amount bet during all of 2017. The figure is around 300% more than at the same stage during the 2014 competition.
Despite China not reaching the World Cup – it has not qualified since 2002 – betting on the tournament is clearly rife via legal channels. The China Sports Lottery is one of two authorised lotteries operated by the Chinese government. Players can win by correctly guessing the outcomes of major football games.
While gambling via social media channels has been affected by technology problems experienced by WeChat and AliPay users in recent days, such apps are also helping to boost Sports Lottery participation, according to Li Gang, an expert on the Chinese lottery industry at Shanghai Normal University.
He told the Australian Financial Review: “Sales are beyond everyone's expectations and imaginations.
“The wider use of social media is encouraging lottery sales. A lot of people also want to show off how they picked the right result by showing off amongst their WeChat friends.”
Last year the Chinese authorities ordered state-run telecoms operators to block overseas betting operators by cracking down on virtual private networks (VPN).