Henan punter wins 360m yuan
A lucky punter in Henan province has won the mainland's biggest lottery payout yet with a jackpot of almost 360 million yuan (HK$409 million).
The province's Welfare Lottery Distribution Centre announced that one ticket issued in Anyang netted 88 out of all 93 payouts - worth just less than 4.1 million yuan each - drawn on Thursday evening.
State media reported that the winner had paid 176 yuan for the ticket, which repeated the same combination of numbers 44 times, gambling at double odds.
The record-breaking win smashes the previous highest jackpot of 113 million yuan, and is sure to add more fuel to the already growing demand for lottery tickets on the mainland.
There are two state-run lotteries, both overseen by the Ministry of Finance, which raise money for welfare and sports.
However, punters have the option of several games, involving different numbers of balls and selection methods. Thursday's ticket was for the popular double-colour lottery, which involves a draw of seven balls from numbered sets in two colours - 33 red and 16 blue.
Income from the two lotteries - split with half going into the prize pot, 35 per cent for welfare/sports and the remainder covering administrative costs - has been rocketing upwards since 2005. Xinhua reported on Tuesday that total lottery sales had reached 84.6 billion yuan over the first eight months of this year, a 22.4 per cent increase on the same period last year.
The lion's share has been generated by the welfare lottery, with 48.3 billion yuan, but sports lottery sales increased at a steeper rate - 24.2 per cent year on year compared with 21.1 per cent.
Demonstrating the dramatic rate of growth in both mainland lotteries, the January-to-August total is more than the 81.8 billion yuan the lotteries brought in for all of 2006. The sports lottery's 36.3 billion yuan was just short of the combined total for 2004, 38.1 billion yuan.
Taking a gamble
Lottery sales in the first eight months of this year hit 84.6 billion yuan
Compared with the same period last year, this was an increase of: 22.4%