The authorities in mainland China have spelled out that unauthorised lottery sales are illegal. Unauthorised online sales of official lottery products have in recent years been a particular concern of the central government.
According to an announcement – understood to have been posted on Monday on the website of China’s Ministry of Finance – the updated rules regarding such matters, described as an “amendment”; will be effective from October 1 onward. The posted announcement, carrying the date August 16, was also endorsed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the General Administration of Sport.
Several mainland outlets reported that the changes made to the rules should also have the effect of simplifying procedures for authorisation of offline sales of lottery products.
In August, the Chinese authorities had reiterated the ongoing ban regarding online ticket sales for the country’s official lottery systems, and stressed that the Finance Ministry had not so far given approval for any lottery sales outlets to conduct sales online since a freeze on such commerce in 2015.
The amendment to the rules publicised on Monday mentioned “online sales of welfare lottery tickets and sports lottery tickets without authorisation” as illegal.
Issuing and selling welfare lottery tickets and sports lottery tickets without the authorisation of the State Council, the Ministry of Finance, the lottery issuing institution or and approved lottery sales organisation – and issuing and selling overseas lottery tickets in China – were already clearly identified as illegal under the rules as defined prior to Monday’s public announcement, and remain so.
The reasons given back in 2015 regarding suspension of online sales of tickets for China’s two official lotteries – the welfare lottery and the sports lottery – included the need to streamline government oversight and to curb fraud by unlicensed sellers.
The mainland authorities emphasised in their latest announcement that the Finance Ministry had never previously approved any online sales of lottery tickets. It had been widely reported that prior to the official ban such sales were in fact occurring.
“Although there was the “most rigorous ban of online sales of lottery tickets” such operations had persisted in some quarters, stated the Beijing Daily newspaper on Tuesday.
“Some illegal apps are even ‘cosplaying’” whereby “users only discover they are lottery apps when opening, there are still selling various lottery tickets; some apps even sell ‘Hong Kong Mark Six’ illegally”, added Beijing Daily, referring latterly to a lottery product of the Hong Kong Jockey Club supposed to be on sale only in that Special Administrative Region of China.
On August 19, China’s state broadcaster CCTV had criticised the U.S. computer firm Apple Inc for allegedly allowing as many as 25,000 software apps giving access to China lottery ticket online sales – and to other gambling consumer sites – to be available on its App Store within China.
Apple said in a statement on August 20 that it had made efforts to remove such apps and prevent any new ones being added to its App Store in China.
Chinese media reported subsequently that this prevented new downloads of barred apps within China but had no influence regarding existing users to use the downloaded apps.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China