Chinese media is reporting that the government plans to restart its online lottery operations after ordering their suspension over a year ago.
This weekend, the Economic Observer quoted an anonymous industry insider saying that Beijing authorities were preparing to authorize a trial of a new online lottery regime, but only after the government crafts the necessary regulations. The source offered no timeline for when these new regulations might be ready.
Beijing ordered a 'temporary' suspension of online lottery sales in March 2015 after government audits turned up widespread evidence of fraud by officials at provincial lottery administration centers. (See China reveals misuse of $2.7 billion in lottery funds, Lottery Post, June 25, 2015.)
The suspension contributed to the 3.8% decline in China's lottery sales in 2015.
No company was ever officially approved to sell sports and welfare lottery tickets online in China, although the government had allowed two companies — 500.com and Sporterry.cn — to participate in an online pilot program.
The lack of authorization didn't stop numerous other Internet businesses, including Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent, from offering online lottery sales. The suspension has cost all these companies, but 500.com has been hit hardest, reporting three straight quarters of zero revenue.
Last month, Hong Kong-listed lottery technology firm AGTech Holdings issued its annual report, in which CEO Sun Ho said he expected Beijing to approve "new online and mobile channels for lottery sales" this year. Last October, Chinese lottery operator DJI Holdings announced that it had received approval for a field trial of a mobile sports lottery app in Quingdao City in Shandong province.