Odds are, they're betting on FIFA
Updated: 2014-06-19 07:49
By QIU BO (China Daily)
Fuleco, the official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, is displayed at an automobile showroom in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. The World Cup has spurred China's soccer gambling sector, with game-related sales hitting a record high. [Photo/China Daily]
China's national soccer team didn't make it to the World Cup finals, but that hasn't stopped the country's soccer fans from placing record bets on the outcome of the event.
According to the National Sports Lottery Center, the industry regulator, more than 150 million yuan ($24 million) in sales were recorded on June 12, the tournament's opening day.
And in the first five days of the event, nationwide match-betting ticket sales reached 748 million yuan, up 482 percent from last year, while regular lottery sales only went up by 1.54 percent over the same period.
Sales for Taobao's lottery service soared, too. More than 4 million bets were placed via Taobao's online platform on the opening day. Within three days, the number of betters had surged to 6 million.
The FIFA World Cup is the first major sports event to be held since online sports betting was legalized, said Li Zichuan, an analyst from Enfodesk, a consultancy. Ticket sales companies and agencies launched many promotional activities to stimulate business. Taobao, for instance, said it would pay up to 100 yuan to each gambler who fails to win the targeted amount.
Shenzhen-based 500.com, one of the biggest and most influential online lottery agencies, has promised a prize of 100 million yuan to anyone who correctly forecasts the outcomes for all 63 World Cup matches.
Those incentives have galvanized gamblers. Zhang Bin, a 28-year-old technician, put 1,000 yuan into his betting account to play the World Cup games. "It's easy to see more people you know who have pitched into the betting wave," he said.
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