Lottery games are popular in Asia and the continent’s largest country, China, is no exception. Last year the country’s Sports and Welfare lotteries raked in 511 billion yuan in ticket sales, nearly as much as America’s state lotteries earn collectively. And though the country’s long COVID-19 lockdown and stalling economic growth have dampened consumer spending, lottery sales seem to be picking up, particularly among younger people.
In part, this is because of a resurgence in superstition. Many Chinese believe that lottery winnings will bring good luck to their families, and playing one is seen as a sign of being ‘one of the locals’. But it is also because the country’s tech giants, including e-commerce giant Alibaba and social media giant Tencent, are making big bets on the industry. Both have stakes in companies that make video lottery terminals, which resemble slot machines and allow players to bet on the numbers that will appear.
There are some signs that Chinese lottery companies are getting smarter about marketing their prizes. In the past, a common tactic was to send unsolicited emails to potential winners with advice on how to protect themselves from scammers. The messages urged them to keep a low profile and hide their faces, as well as to avoid any financial products recommended by anyone claiming to help with their prize. This was an effective strategy for deterring fraudsters, but it was not a foolproof way to stop them.