China sports lottery to rebound thanks to football, Olympics, online reboot

china-sports-lottery-reboundChina’s sports lottery business is primed for a resurgence in 2016 after a tough 2015, according to market watchers.

China’s sports lottery sales are expected to surge over the next couple months, thanks to the Euro 2016 and Copa America football tournaments, as well as the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup gave sports lottery numbers a significant boost but Everbright Securities analyst Jiang Hao suggested the European Championship and Copa America events would prove even more popular with Chinese sports lottery bettors, in part due to the ‘all-star’ makeup of the teams involved.

Jiang suggested June’s lottery numbers would show “a multiple yearly increase” over the same month last year, particularly in the match betting category. Match betting was already on a tear in 2016, posting year-on-year gains of 71% and 49% in March and April, respectively.

The numbers could enjoy another surge after this summer’s marquee sports events are done if the government follows through on hints that it’s preparing to restart online lottery sales after banning the practice in March 2015 over rampant fraud by provincial lottery administrators.

While no timeline has been offered for when online sales might restart, the government’s commitment appears set. In addition to last month’s statements regarding future responsibilities of lottery administrators in monitoring and reporting online lottery activity, the China Welfare Lottery Centre recently issued a tender for its telephone and online marketing project.

In 2014, the last full year before the online ban took effect, online channels accounted for 22% of all lottery sales in China, a figure worth around RMB 85b (US $12.9b). That was twice the value of the online market in 2013, according to data from CaiTong Consulting.