Hard times for once-popular pension lottery

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Hard times for once-popular pension lottery

Launched with much hoopla in 2011, sales of the pension lottery tickets dropped by nearly half in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.

Apparently, it didn’t make winners feel very rich.

According to data released Monday by the Korea Lottery Commission under the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, pension lottery ticket sales plunged to 68 billion won ($62.6 million) this year from 131 billion won last year.

That is a 48 percent drop, reflecting the decreased popularity of the pension lottery system that received much attention from both young and old Koreans three years ago. First prize winners get 5 million won each month for 20 years.

Pension lottery tickets were sold out for five consecutive months after the new system debuted in July 2011.

“When the pension lottery was launched, there was much interest in our aging society, but it is nothing new now,” said Chung Hyang-woo, director at the ministry. “The actual amount winners can take from the pension lottery is about 3.9 million won a month after taxes, so it doesn’t feel like much compared to other lotteries. The government is preparing a new type of lottery in order to meet changing demand among consumers.”

Meanwhile, Koreans’ get-rich-quick fever has grown stronger amid the prolonged downturn, as proven by increased sales of lottery tickets overall, which went up by 0.45 percent from 1.62 trillion won in the first six months of last year to 1.63 trillion won this year.

Sales of the online Lotto, the most popular game in the country, rose to 1.49 trillion won in the first half of the year from 1.42 trillion won in 2012, leading the growth in the total sales, according to the data. Online lottery revenues are increasing 6 percent annually as the country’s GDP is rising, the ministry official said.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]
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