World Cup craze lights up China’s lottery sector, with rising underground bets, fraud cases

By Ma Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/18 21:33:40

Online, underground bets rise fast, and fraud does too

Soccer fans watch a World Cup game at a bar in Beijing on Thursday. Photo: VCG

Chinese fans are rushing to buy lottery tickets during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with some even choosing underground bets over official lottery options. That's leading to rising cases of fraud online, experts warned. 

"I purchased soccer lottery tickets worth 500 yuan ($77.65) yesterday, betting on Mexico. When I woke up this morning, I found out that Mexico had really beaten Germany. I won 5,000 yuan overnight," Li Wenlong, a resident of Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, told the Global Times on Monday.

"Actually I don't watch soccer. I'm just curious about the high odds," Li noted, adding that many of his friends had also bought soccer lottery tickets for the World Cup.

Prior to the World Cup, the General Administration of Sport launched special lotteries for the event that offer seven playing options, such as bets on total goals scored, or on victory or defeat.

"During this year's World Cup, sales of soccer lotteries in my store have almost doubled from the usual level," Wu, owner of a betting shop in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province told the Global Times on Monday. He declined to give exact figures. In addition to lottery outlets, many young Chinese tend to buy tickets online, Wu said. 

On some domestic navigation websites such as, lotteries in Chinese are highlighted. After users register their mobile phone numbers, they can purchase lottery tickets.

At Apple's App Store China version on Monday, four of the top 10 free apps involved sports lotteries. App backed by Beijing Dingli Network Technology Co has been downloaded more than 130,000 times.

Another popular sports lottery app that goes by the Chinese name of Renrenmaicaipiao attracts lottery buyers with two slogans at its interface saying "Winning the grand prize at all times" and "The dream starts here."

However, along with the fast growth of the lottery industry, underground lotteries and gambling have become widespread.

The official anti-fraud center of Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, urgently reminded residents to avoid being cheated. According to a report on its website, the center noted that victims are induced to join so-called soccer gambling groups on WeChat or QQ and then make bets. But when they try to claim their prizes, they are asked to transfer more money to criminal suspects as "security deposits."

Sports lotteries are not illegal, but underground lotteries - which exploit legal loopholes, evade taxation and leak personal data - violate China's laws and regulations, said Zhang Qing, CEO of Beijing Key-Solution Sports Consulting Co.

The huge scope of underground sports lotteries indicates that the legal lottery needs an upgrading, said He Wenyi, executive director of Peking University's China Institute for Sports Value.

"Why do people resort to betting in underground lotteries or those overseas? That's because China's sports lottery is not well-structured or entertaining enough. It has low odds and few varieties," He told the Global Times on Monday.

Zhang agreed, saying that diverse sports lottery products should be developed while making the domestic lottery industry more transparent, well-regulated and user-friendly.

Apart from lotteries, 100,000 Chinese are forecast to visit Russia during the World Cup period, bringing more than 3 billion yuan in tourism revenue to Russia, data from domestic leading online travel agency Ctrip showed on Monday.

Newspaper headline: World Cup craze lights up lottery sector


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