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China's Lottery Sales Breaks 80 Billion Yuan in 2006
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China's lottery sales in 2006 increased 10.54 billion yuan from the previous year to a record high of 81.93 billion yuan (US$105.4 billion), said the Chinese Ministry of Finance on Thursday.



Excluding the eight days around the Spring Festival when lottery sales were suspended, every day about 229 million yuan (US$29.5 million) of lottery tickets were sold in China in 2006.


Of the total, sales from China Welfare Lottery, the only national lottery approved by the Chinese government, hit 49.5 billion yuan (US$6.2 billion) in 2006, up 20 percent from the previous year. The sales of the Sports Lottery increased 2.1 billion yuan to 32.3 billion yuan (US$4.15 billion).


Last year the country raised 27.76 billion yuan (US$3.57 billion) in public welfare funds from lottery sales, 12.3 percent more than in 2005, according to the ministry.


The ministry said the fund was equally shared by the central government and the local governments, which will be mainly used for social welfare, such as the development of public sports facilities, education and health care for the handicapped. A large part also went to the social security fund to fill its deficit.


China launched its first lottery in June 1987. Lottery ticket sales are one of the major sources of funds for building community sports facilities and financing the country's social welfare programs. Despite this, gambling is illegal in China.


China's lottery market has expanded quickly over the last two decades but the China Welfare Lottery Management Center still describes the penetration of lottery in China as low.


As in 2006, China's per capita lottery sale accounts for only 0.663 percent of the per capita net income, which is equivalent to only 1-2 percent of the world average.


(Xinhua News Agency January 19, 2007)


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