China’s state-run lottery services are preparing to reopen for business after an unprecedented shutdown to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
In January, Chinese authorities announced that all lottery operations would be suspended for a 10-day period starting January 22 to coincide with the annual Lunar New Year celebrations. But before that planned resumption of sales on February 1, the government extended the shutdown for another 10 days rather than have citizens cluster together in small lottery retail offices to buy their tickets.
While the extended shutdown was supposed to be lifted on February 10, no official announcement was forthcoming from the Ministry of Finance, and lottery sales have remained on pause ever since. But reports coming from provincial lottery administration centers suggest the dam is about to break.
On Wednesday, the government’s official lottery site, which has been running endless stories celebrating provincial lottery administrators’ efforts to combat the further spread of the virus by distributing masks and furiously scrubbing things, featured a message from the Zhejiang Sports Lottery Management Center saying it would resume “paper instant lottery sales in industry channels” as of Thursday (27).
The website also posted a message from a lottery retailer in Jiangxi province saying he had been diligently disinfecting his shop to prepare for “the opening of the market.” The retailer added that customers will now be required to provide their names and a host of other detailed information, including where they came from, how they traveled to the store and a description of their physical condition. They will also need to submit themselves to “temperature detectors” within the shop.
China’s lottery sales fell 17.5% in 2019, the first year of negative growth after four straight years of annual gains, most of them the high double-digit variety. The extended shutdown of the past few weeks means that 2020’s sales will have a lot of ground to make up if they want to swing back into the black by year’s end.
Sports lottery sellers were expecting a major surge this summer thanks to the UEFA European Championship, which has traditionally provided a serious boost to operations. But with the COVID-19 virus now taking root in some European countries, speculation is rife that the Euro 2020 tournament may not go ahead as planned.