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China lottery sales down 20.8% in 2020 amid Covid-19 disruption

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Chinese lottery sales for 2020 were down 20.8% to CNY333.95bn (£37.67bn/€42.31bn/$51.52bn), following a collapse in activity in the first quarter as the country dealt with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

This total was made up of CNY144.48bn from the Welfare Lottery, a 24.5% decrease. The Sports Lottery’s contribution fell 17.9% to CNY189.64bn.

Of the Welfare Lottery revenue, the vast majority came from numbers lotteries, which brought in CNY122.14bn, down 7.5%.

Instant win games were more resilient, bringing in CNY14.64bn, down just 2.1% from 2019, while Keno revenue increased despite the effects of the pandemic, to CNY910.9m.

Video lottery, however, saw revenue collapse due to extended closures, with the vertical bringing in just CNY679.3m, down 84.8%.

Breaking down Sports Lottery revenue, numbers games made up the majority of revenue, as sales from this vertical increased by 4.7% CNY99.77bn.

Sports betting followed, bringing in CNY74.92bn, but this was down 38.6%.

Instant win games, meanwhile, saw sales of CNY 14.77bn, up 8.7%. Sales from video sports lotteries – always only a minor contributor to total sales – fell 38.9% to CNY1.5m.

The decline was mostly due to low figures in the first half of the year, when many sales outlets were closed to limit the spread of the virus. In February, sales hit a low of just CNY1.3m.

Looking only at December, revenue came to CNY36.51bn, down 11.8% but the highest monthly total of the year.

Welfare Lottery sales came to CNY15.27bn, with Sports Lottery sales reaching CNY18.95bn.

Within the Welfare Lottery, numbers games brought in CNY13.38bn, instant win games CNY1.46bn and Keno CNY427.5m, a record for the vertical. Video lottery terminals, however, were closed and thus delivered no sales.

For the Sports Lottery, numbers games led the way with CNY9.92bn. Sports betting was close behind at 9.79bn, while instant win games brought in CNY1.65bn. Video lottery sales totalled CNY140,000.

Lotteries in China will soon undergo major changes, as the Chinese government announced in October 2020 that lotteries will soon no longer be able to sell high-frequency, or quick-draw games.

Provincial lotteries have been limited to only offering one high-frequency game from 1 November 2020, and after February’s New Year holiday the games will be withdrawn entirely. 

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