China eyes new domestic football lottery; Hong Kong sets Mark Six jackpot record

china-domestic-football-sports-lotteryChina is mulling the launch of a new sports lottery focused on the country’s domestic football leagues.

On Thursday, China’s State General Administration of Sports released its five-year development plan, which included the idea of a new football lottery product that will help fund Beijing’s goal of turning the country into a “top class soccer nation” by 2050.

The plan envisions “speeding up the innovative and creative progress on sports lottery, studying and promoting the process of starting up football lottery” on both the Chinese Super League and China League One. This will involve “adapting to the trend, broadening the lottery trade channel land steadily expanding market scale.”

China’s domestic football leagues are notorious for their susceptibility to match-fixing, which Beijing has blamed for the country’s inability to field a team capable of competing on the international stage. Beijing launched a crackdown on football corruption in 2009 in a bid to inject some badly needed respectability into its national game, a goal the authorities claim has largely been achieved.

China’s existing sports lottery reported a 5.7% decline in sales last year, partly due to 2014 having been a FIFA World Cup year but also due to a suspension of all online sales imposed in March 2015. Chinese media reported last month that the government was preparing to lift the suspension once new online regulations had been formalized.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s lottery retailers are bracing for a last-minute buying frenzy thanks to a record jackpot on offer. The Mark Six lottery, which is run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, has not awarded a jackpot in its previous eight draws, pushing Tuesday’s jackpot to at least HKD 115m (US $14.8m), higher than the previous record of HKD 113m set in September 2014.

However, that September 2014 jackpot wasn’t claimed by a sole winner, leaving another possible record up for grabs. The current record for a single-winner jackpot is HKD 91m, which was handed out in December 2013. The Mark Six lottery is one of the few forms of non-race gambling allowed in Hong Kong.