March 24, 2008 / 7:57 AM / 10 years ago

Beijing to launch Olympic-themed lottery

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched an Olympic-themed lottery with prizes of up to 5 million yuan (358,000 pounds), local media reported.

China’s ruling Communist Party banned gambling after taking power in 1949, but state-run sports lotteries have become hugely popular since starting in the 1980s.

The Olympic lottery will include five sorts of games, covering all 28 sports in the Beijing Olympics, with tickets priced from three to 10 yuan, Xinhua news agency said.

One game, on sale between late April and August 7, a day before the opening ceremony, will invite wagers on how many gold, silver and bronze medals China will win at certain disciplines.

The other four games, on sale during the August 8-24 Olympic period, would allow participants to bet on winners of preliminary rounds, competitions and medallists on each given day.

In January, China approved the start of regular horse racing in the central city of Wuhan, with a view to introducing legalised gambling on those races next year, state media reported.

Reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by Ken Wills

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