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Chinese lottery sales picked up in March after retailers launched phased re-openings and Chinese authorities have imposed a record financial penalty on an online gambling payment processor.

Figures released by China’s Ministry of Finance show lottery sales of RMB10.5b (US$1.5b) in the month of March, a 70% decline from the same month last year but up dramatically from just RMB1m in February as retailers slowly resumed operations after their lengthy COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Total sales over the first quarter of 2020 were down 64.5% to RMB37.7b, with sports lottery sales (RMB19.65b, -65.7%) somehow managing to maintain their lead over the rival welfare lottery (RMB18.05b, -63.2%) despite the mass cancellation of major sports events.

Beijing’s lottery operators reopened last week after a 105-day long closure, making it the last region in China to relaunch operations.

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