Legalised soccer betting yesterday kicked off to a flying start on the mainland with thousands of people lining up to buy tickets in 12 major cities and provinces. In Shenzhen, hundreds of people were seen crowding the ticket sale counters, according to local television reports. The betting brought in soccer and non-soccer enthusiasts alike to the ticket sale held at the Shenzhen City sports gymnasium. One buyer said: 'I don't even like soccer, I'm here because this is exciting.' The lottery tickets, costing two yuan (HK$1.88) each, allow the buyer to bet on next week's nine Italian league games and four English Premier league games. Gamblers can bet on three results from the games - winner, loser and draw. The maximum cash prize from a winning ticket will be five million yuan. According to lottery officials, 50 per cent of the ticket sales revenue will be used to pay the winner, 20 per cent to cover administration costs and the final 30 per cent will go towards developing new sports facilities. The director of the State Administration of Physical Culture and Sports, Yuan Weimin, said in Beijing yesterday that after this initial phase, the lottery tickets sale would be expanded and the tickets would be available over the Internet. Officials hope the lottery will minimise criminal involvement in soccer gambling and seize some of the revenue being generated by illegal soccer gambling which has exploded in China, particularly after China's World Cup entry. There is concern about the impact of gambling on the public, particularly on children, despite the purchase of lottery tickets being limited to 18-year-olds and above. One parent in Shenzhen said: 'I'm worried this lottery will encourage kids to start gambling at an earlier age.'