Putting the Law in Lotteries

The nation is in need of a lottery law to guide the rapid development of the fledging lottery industry, said a national legislator.

"Without legal guidelines, it is almost impossible to put the industry on the right track,'' said Ma Damou, a Shaanxi deputy to the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).

Ma, along with 31 other national legislators, has submitted a proposal calling for lottery legislation at the ongoing Fourth Session of the Ninth NPC, China's top legislative body.

According to NPC rules of procedure, a group of 30 or more NPC deputies is required before they can put forward a legislative motion.

In his motion, Ma said the proposed lottery law should empower the government to control the form and procedures of lotteries, and to take measures to keep lotteries orderly and to impose controls on the use of funds collected through lotteries.

"Lotteries are a promising industry, as they increase tax revenues, create job opportunities and generate funds for the government,'' Ma said.

At present lottery-winners are required to pay one-fifth of their winnings in tax, according to China's Individual Income Tax Law.

Ma has learned that the lottery industry can create some 50,000 stable jobs for presently unemployed people, including laid off workers and some disabled people.

The first issue of 80 million welfare lottery tickets was sold in ten provinces and municipalities including Hebei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai in 1987.

The State Council ratified sports lotteries in 1994.

The nation had sold a total of 50.4 billion yuan (US$6 billion) worth of welfare and sports lottery tickets by the end of 1999, benefiting millions of orphans, disabled people, senior citizens and victims of natural disasters.

Another legislative motion, put forward by Wei Wenlin, a NPC deputy from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, calls for the government to set up a new education lottery to remedy the shortage of funds for education.

However, there are some irregularities in the management of lotteries in some places, such as private lotteries and fraudulent practices, which hamper the healthy development of the entire industry, Ma noted.

"It is necessary to work out a law to regulate the lottery industry, since it penetrates into almost every walk of life,'' Ma said.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a regulation on the management of the welfare lottery in 1994, a departmental regulation lower in judicial force than the administrative regulation passed by the State Council and laws worked out by the top legislative body.

However, lotteries have witnessed an amazing surge and have gained wild popularity among the public because of the promise of instant wealth.

The current regulation, drafted in the early stage of lottery development in China and covering only the welfare lottery, is inadequate under current circumstances, Ma said.

But it should be useful in the drafting of the proposed lottery law, he added.

(China Daily 03/08/2001)