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Lottery sales at all-time high, but growth slow

Jan 24,2019
Last year, almost 4 trillion won ($3.5 billion) was spent on lottery tickets, an all-time record.

While a new high was reached, the growth rate slowed in 2018 as no new lottery ticket stores were opened.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance Wednesday, 3.97 trillion won worth of lottery tickets were sold last year.

As a single lottery ticket costs 1,000 won, 3.96 billion tickets were purchased.

The record was hit for both the won value of the tickets and the number of tickets.

The previous value record was hit in 2003, when a ticket went for 2,000 won. The amount sold was 3.82 trillion won.

Considering that last year Korea’s population was 51.6 million, the average sale per person was 76.8 tickets, or 76,800 won per person.

On average, nearly 10.9 billion won worth of lottery tickets were purchased a day.

From the 3.97 trillion won take, a total of 1.98 trillion won after taxes was paid out to the winners.

Last year 484 people won the top prize, taking home an average 1.96 billion won. The biggest payout was on Sept. 1, when three winners each took home 5.93 billion won.

On April 14, 16 winners split the jackpot, taking home an average of 1.08 billion won. That was smallest top payout of the year.

The most lottery tickets were purchased on Sept. 22. During that week, 8.29 trillion won of lottery tickets were sold.

The slowest sales were recorded on Aug. 4. During that week, only 71.8-billion won worth of lottery tickets were sold.

A total of 94.5 million people won the smallest prize: 5,000 won.

Lottery tickets have been on sale since the second half of 2002. They became a national frenzy after an individual won 40.7 billion won on April 12, 2003.

It is a record that still stands.

The government became concerned people were too focused on the lottery and decided to cool excitement by changing the way jackpots rolled over.

Rather than allow the funds to accumulate for up to five weeks, the government limited the rollover period to two weeks.

The ticket price was dropped from 2,000 won to 1,000 won in an effort to make the total pool smaller.

As a result, lottery sales fell. But demand has recovered. In 2016, sales grew 9.5 percent compared to the previous year, and in 2017 sales were up 6.5 percent. Last year, growth was only 4.4 percent.

“The slower growth this year was largely because there were no new lottery stores opened,” said a ministry official.

The ministry, however, denied that the worsening economy and a desire to get rich overnight drove the record-breaking sales of lottery tickets last year.

“In an analysis, it was found that the economic situation has nothing to do with sales, but rather the number of stores that are opened.”

Although the government started selling the lottery tickets online last month, total interest sales are capped.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]


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