China’s lottery sales fell in January, the eighth straight month of declining numbers.
According to the Ministry of Finance, total lottery sales fell 16.8% in January to RMB 32.6b (US $5b). Welfare lottery sales were down 7.9% to RMB 18.1b while sports lottery sales tumbled 25.7% to RMB 14.5b.
China’s slowdown has dragged down the performance of the entire Asia-Pacific lottery sector, according to the World Lottery Association (WLA). The WLA’s figures covering the first nine months of 2015 show the Asia-Pacific region contracting by 0.3%, while other geographic categories were all in positive territory over the same span, led by Latin America (+19.2%), North America (+7.6%), Africa (+3.6%) and Europe (+0.6%).
Some of China’s decline can be blamed on its slumping economy and poor comparisons with 2014’s figures, as the sports lottery benefited from excitement over the FIFA World Cup. But the decline also mirrors the Beijing-imposed March 1, 2015 suspension of online lottery sales following evidence of rampant corruption among unauthorized online lottery operators.
International online gambling operators have been only too eager to fill the void left by China’s online suspension, and the number of international options just improved by one. UK-based pool betting operator Colossus Bets recently announced the launch of its Colossus Football Lottery in Asia in conjunction with online sports betting technology provider ONEworks.
The partnership, which was announced earlier this year, will allow Asian punters the opportunity to compete for a variety of sports pool jackpots, including the weekly $10m Colossus. Colossus Bets has set a goal of eventually offering a $40m+ pool and becoming, in its words, “the EuroMillions for sports betting.”
Colussus Bets CEO Bernard Marantelli called the ONEworks tie up “an important milestone” for his company given ONEworks’ lengthy list of Asian-facing licensees. Marantelli predicted that the addition of Colossus Bets pools would help “cement ONEworks’ position as a one stop shop.”
Rumors keep circulating that Beijing intends to relax its online suspension and officially authorize a raft of new online sports lottery operators in time for this summer’s UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. But until Beijing acts, international operators will continue to position themselves as the go-to options for Chinese punters, and Colossus Bets says it expects to offer $70m in guaranteed pools on Euro 2016.