Lottery Sales Surge in Times of Coronavirus

  • By Hwang Ji-yoon

    October 31, 2020 08:17

    The coronavirus epidemic has sent lottery ticket sales soaring, as is usual in dire economic times.

    According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, lottery ticket sales during the first six months of this year totaled a record W2.6 trillion, up 11.1 percent on-year (US$1=W1,135).

    Jang Seok-man (54), who sells lottery tickets in central Seoul, had the number "7706" written on a paper chit he handed to a customer on Tuesday. "That's the number of tickets I sold so far this week," he said.

    At the same time the following day, the tally had soared to 14,003. Jang said he normally sells 40,000 lottery tickets by 8 p.m. on Saturdays, when the week's sale ends.

    People line up to buy lottery tickets at a store in Jongno, Seoul on Tuesday that is popular for selling several winning tickets.

    A lottery ticket costs W5,000 and his store makes more than W200 million. "Weekly sales have increased between W10 million to W20 million on-year," he said. "The number of customers starts to rise gradually from Wednesdays and usually peaks on Saturdays, but these days customers even pile in at the start of the week."

    People dream of instant riches when the economy is bad. One 33-year-old hospital worker has been buying lottery tickets in Incheon every week over the past six months. He heard rumors that this particular store has sold several winning tickets. "If I win the lottery, I plan to pay off my mortgage debt first," he said.

    For Hyeong Nam-song (58), who lives in a northern suburb of Seoul, it is a little escape from reality. "Doing this makes me happy every week," he said. "This is what keeps me going."

    Another 28-year-old who came to buy a ticket said, "Many people have lost jobs due to the coronavirus epidemic. Buying lottery tickets and daydreaming give me some comfort, even if just for a moment."

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