- A Chinese national lottery product has caused many tragedies.
- Nationwide censoreship on all related topics.
- Win the Treasure might be controlled by a clan that is still beloved by the president.
Macao for China is what Las Vegas is for the United States. In 2018, over 250 million mainland Chinese citizens visited Macao to have a go at the casinos there, which makes it easy to understand that Macao has produced several consistent occupants on the Forbes’ World Billionaire List and will replace Qatar to become the richest place in the world by 2020 according to the IMF.
Undoubtedly, Macao’s success is closely related to the strict prohibition on gambling in mainland China. Any verified participation in gambling faces a sentence of at least three years in prison plus an elevated fine. In mainland China, its closest substitution would be the national lottery. Over the years, the national lottery has greatly evolved, with a huge variety of products to choose from, some of which start to blur the fine line between lottery and gambling.
On January 17, a video was uploaded on Bilibili, a YouTube-like website in China. The video started with a Chinese personal identification number of the uploader, Jing Yumo. Then, it goes on to denounce how “Win the Treasure,” a product of the Chinese national lottery, has become a very addictive and dangerous gambling game all over China.
Win the Treasure is basically a slot machine, which is forbidden in mainland China, installed with a game similar to Tetris. Each game consists of three levels, with an entrance fee of between 0.1 to 10 RMB. After completing all three levels, the player has the chance to win at most 250,000 RMB ($36,400).
The machines can only be found in official national lottery centers and, strictly speaking, can only be used by adults (over 18) with a daily expenditure limit of 200 RMB. However, according to the whistleblower, who used his real name, most lottery centers nowadays do not respect the law and allow everyone to play the game without expenditure limit. Many players have wasted lots of time and lost huge amounts of money on the game. In some extreme cases, the gamblers have lost millions of RMB and are still borrowing money in an attempt to get it all back. The video uploader pleads with the government to investigate and do something about this game immediately to avoid more tragedies.
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However, the video was soon deleted by the website and all the related discussions on Zhihu and Sina Weibo have been censured (watch the video on YouTube below). Internet users have been using implicit phrases to complain how the government is supressing the news. They wonder if some important government officials might be behind this game, otherwise something like this wouldn’t have evoked such massive nationwide censorship.
The national lottery in China has always been a controversial topic due to all the cases of corruption and manipulation of prizes over the years. Just a few days ago, the former director of the national lottery, Wang Suying, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for corruption and misuse of lottery funds.
Fourteen high level national lottery officials have been sentenced due to similar causes since 2013. People are speculating that in the national lottery system there are several clans, and all the arrested officials belong to one clan that Xi Jinping is trying to clear out of the government. Which could mean that Win the Treasure might be controlled by a clan that is still beloved by the president.