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China’s Sports and Welfare Lotteries saw sales fall 17.7% in May, the smallest year-on-year decline reported by the country’s Ministry of Finance since novel coronavirus (Covid-19) hit.

Sales for the month came to CNY29.22bn (£3.32bn/€3.65bn/$4.14bn), though this marked a 24.9% improvement on April’s CNY23.39bn total. Sports Lottery sales accounted for CNY15.21bn of this sum, down 20.1%, while Welfare Lottery sales were down 15.0% at CNY14.01bn.

The vast majority of May’s revenue came from digital sales. While the channel reported a 22.0% year-on-year drop to CNY23.22bn, this accounted for 79.5% of the monthly total.

Sales for quiz games, meanwhile, were down 71.6% at CNY2.72bn, and instant win sales dropped 9.2% to CNY2.36bn. Video lottery sales declined 78.8% to CNY916.1m, with keno’s contribution – traditionally the smallest of all products – down 24.5% at CNY11.1m.

Throughout 2020, the Chinese lottery market has been badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, which originated in the country, prompting the government to impose strict lockdowns on major cities.

After the market declined 43.4% in January, sales fell to just CNY1.3m in February with products unable to be sold. The recovery began in March, at a time when many cities remained under lockdown, continuing into April.

However China’s capital Beijing, the final region to resume lottery sales, is once again ramping up controls following a new outbreak of the virus in the city.

For the year to date, total lottery sales have fallen 49.2% to CNY90.33bn. The China Sports Lottery made up CNY46.34bn of this total, down 51.7%, with a further CNY43.99bn coming from the Welfare Lottery.

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