Although China was not directly a part of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this year, the tournament has had an intense impact on the nation; an impact that was both good and bad. World-cup related betting has been directly responsible for increased revenues (on tax) for the government. It has also been directly responsible for a string of suicides that shook the nation.
According to the National Sports Lottery Center of the People’s Republic of China, as much as 150 million Yuan went towards gambling on the first day of the tournament itself. As the games progressed, so did the amount gambled on each bet and the number of suicides in the nation.
Lottery tickets, gambling and suicide
On losing $48,000 after betting on the first match of the tournament, a man jumped off a high-rise in Shanghai, to his death. On June 18, the dead body of a woman was found in a Hainan hotel, with a suicide note expressing grief over losing $16,000. With each subsequent match, the numbers kept increasing.
July 5, claimed the tenth victim as a 26-year old man jumped to his death after having lost a total of $69,000 in multiple bets. There have been other deaths related to World Cup betting as well.
China’s online gambling market growing phenomenally
Betting, both legal and illegal, has been on the rise in China. First-day bets in 2014 were thrice as much as the amount bet on the opening day of the previous World Cup. With online gambling receiving a legal status recently, the numbers are expected to rise further. Tencent, Alibaba and other internet giants in the nation allow users to purchase the so-called “lotto tickets” easily via mobile and other web applications.
The betting platforms are extensively marketed in mainstream media. No wonder sites like Taobao (provided by Alibaba) saw four million users on the opening day of FIFA’14 itself. Agreed this has helped regional sports lotteries and betting platforms pocket hundreds of thousands of Yuans, but not without a price. The question is what happens when China gets a more active role to play in the games? And, how long before the Chinese government begins rethinking the high cost of legal betting on the society?
Over-betters were not the only ones affected
Suicidal tendencies were triggered not only in individuals who lost significant Yuan in lottery, but also their wives and other family members. Further, the Chinese media has covered cases where wives were driven to suicide on being ignored by their husbands on account of the games.
Further, there have been non-suicide related deaths in China, because of the games. Obsessive watching and the ensuing sleep deprivation (China and Brazil fall in different time zones) have resulted in work related accidents, poor health and death in certain cases, Chinese media reports.