China’s lottery boom sparks social fears

Published on Author Joshua Benjamin

Millions of Chinese citizens are becoming addicted to state-run lottery systems, which have grown in popularity immensely over the past 30 years. The state-run lottery was created in the 1980’s by Mao’s administration in contradiction to the country’s ban on gambling in order to create a welfare system.

As many industries in China have experienced, the lottery industry has boomed to become the fastest growing lottery system the world has seen.  The lottery industry has become a $40 billion industry only trailing to the US lottery industry.  The problem the state is facing is that since it has a country-wide ban on gambling besides the state-run lottery system, there is very little infrastructure to provide aid to citizens who have developed major gambling problems.  There has become a large social concern among the Chinese for the government’s inaction and also the poor use of the revenues provided from the lottery system. The proceeds are meant to help the less fortunate, “the main demand for tickets comes from some of the poorest members of society,” and this problem is exacerbated by China’s cavernous wealth gap.

Source: China’s lottery boom sparks social fears

4 Responses to China’s lottery boom sparks social fears

  1. Any other source? I don’t have a subscription to FT, so I can’t read the article. Anyway, I know Macau is a huge gambling hotspot (largest in the world by revenue) and Hong Kong also has a gambling scene, but I’m pretty sure gambling is illegal. With the exception of underground gambling, I do not think it is very prevalent throughout China. Did the article give a different impression?

  2. We can access FT through various of Leyburn’s digital databases. You can also register and thereby gain free access to 10 (or is it 20?) articles a month.

    It is hard to make the claim that the proceeds of state lotteries in US are used responsibly. While they may be advertised as “supporting education” a big share of gross revenue is devoted to running the lottery — ad campaigns, salaries etc. Then there’s the predilection of state legislatures to cut funding so that there’s no net gain to education or other targetted activities. Finally, the payout on lotteries is poor to scandalous, much worse than a casino or underground betting.

  3. For those who are unable to view the FT’s article, the author Simon Rabinovitch also has a FT blog where he comments on the Chinese lottery more. Source:

    Another issue to consider: what does such a large lottery system say about the economic and social position of the Chinese population? Rabinovitch provides statistics from Beijing Normal University, who provided a profile of China’s 200 million lottery playing population. He concludes that lottery players are “young people who are reasonably comfortable but have hit a ceiling in their career and social progression.”

  4. After reading over Harlyn’s article it seems that currently the prominence of the lottery will not be a big social issue. Unlike the movie we watched in class, because the lottery attracts generally financially stable citizens, losing a home seems unlikely. However, I wonder if the gambling scene will increase in areas with social issues. For example, the Navajo Nation has a problem with casinos because of the mindset of many of their citizens and the prominence of alcoholism. As gambling is on the rise it will be interesting to see if it does begin to attract more poor citizens.