China’s lottery sales enjoyed a month-to-month improvement in November but still recorded the market’s 10th straight month of year-on-year declines.
Figures released this week by China’s Ministry of Finance show overall lottery sales of RMB37.8b (US$5.42b) in the month of November, a 12% decline from the same month last year but a significant improvement over October’s RMB27.5b.
October’s sales were dampened thanks to a nationwide ban on most lottery products to mark the annual National Day holiday. Even with that bit of pesky patriotism aside, November’s sports lottery sales still fell 8% year-on-year to RMB21.1b, while welfare lottery sales slid 15% to RMB16.7b.
Total sales over the first 11 months of 2019 are down 11.6% to RMB377.65b ($54.2b), with sports lotteries down 8.4% to RMB210.65b and welfare lotteries falling 15.3% to RMB167b. Among China’s regional lottery administrators, only Sichuan province reported a year-on-year improvement in 2019 to date (and that gain was extremely modest).
Barring a December miracle, China is on track for its first year of annual sales decline in four years and a far cry from 2018’s 19.9% annual growth rate (thanks in part to a sports lottery surge during the FIFA World Cup).
Worse, 2020’s lottery sales are expected to take a significant stumble out of the gate thanks to a weeklong shutdown in Janaury to commemorate the nation’s Spring Festival. The Ministry of Finance issued a notice in December instructing lottery retailers that they were to suspend lottery sales (with a carveout for instant-win tickets) starting January 22 and extending through January 31.
By way of comparison, public welfare lottery sales in China’s ‘renegade province’ of Taiwan are projected to have their third-best year since launching operations in 1999. The Taiwan Lottery Co announced shortly before Christmas that its sales are expected to hit NT$124.1b (US$4.1b) in 2019, representing 12% annual growth from 2018. For 2020, the company is projecting a further rise to NT$126b, split evenly between numeric draw lotteries and instant-win tickets.