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At Odds With Gambling, China Loves Its Lottery

12 September 2000

BEIJING, CHINA – Sept 12, 2000 – As reported by The L.A Times: "Who wants to be a baiwanfuweng?

"That's a Chinese mouthful for `millionaire' and the answer is plenty of China's 1.3 billion people, who are lining up to buy tickets in this country's biggest-ever nationwide lottery.

"Never mind that gambling is still technically illegal here, one of the great moral evils that the Communists vowed to eradicate when they took power in 1949.

"Now, ironically, it's the Communist regime itself that's putting on the lucky draw, creating a class of instant millionaires in what was supposed to be a classless society not long ago, before getting rich became so glorious.

"…Nearly 15 million tickets were purchased within a week of going on sale Sept. 1. The first jackpot is to be paid out in early October.

"Proceeds from the game--up to $1 billion, organizers hope--will go toward funding the government's cash-strapped social welfare programs.

"In China's case, that means taking care of its swelling population of laid-off workers, the disabled and retirees, many of whom face increasing hardship as inefficient state enterprises go belly up and cut off their pay and pensions.

"As a moneymaker, the lottery is a gamble--literally--and an odd one on the face of it, seeing as the Beijing regime officially bans gaming.

"But in a country where rules are words to dance around and laws mean what the authorities say they mean, not many are bothering to point out the contradiction between government policy and practice…"

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