HONG KONG — A Chinese businessman buys three lottery tickets every day during his lunch break. He watches the numbers flashing on the screens suspended from the ceiling, hoping to see his name among the winners. If he wins, the money goes to charity. If he loses, he just might buy another ticket.
The man, who only identified himself as Mr Li, is a devoted lotto player and has been playing the same combination of numbers for years. His loyalty paid off on October 21, when he won a prize of more than 171 million yuan, or about $23.6 million. But he didn’t sleep when he found out. And he didn’t tell his wife or son.
Li won the China Welfare Lottery, which raises funds for social welfare and cultural programmes. Its jackpot is usually over five million yuan. Almost half of the proceeds from ticket sales go to prize money, and more than a third are used for favoured causes (including public sports facilities). Winners are taxed on their winnings.
Although the Chinese government doesn’t like gambling, it has no problem running a national lottery to raise money for its own purposes. Its biggest tech companies are trying to lure punters with new products, better payouts and wider distribution channels. E-commerce giant Alibaba owns four-fifths of the country’s lottery terminals, and Tencent has a stake in China Lotsynergy, which makes video lottery machines that closely resemble slot machines.