Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Giant jackpots planned by new lottery operator

BILLIONAIRES ROW Taiwan Lottery announced a longer rollover period and a new scratch card game designed to attract a new breed of punters

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Lottery Co president Chang Ruu-tian yesterday demonstrates a new game the company will introduce next year as part of a series of new rules and games that will increase players' chances of winning and boost prize amounts.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Lotto lovers are more likely to become billionaires by winning record jackpots next year, as the new operator, Taiwan Lottery Co (台灣彩券公司), plans to roll out a slew of new rules to boost prize amounts and lure more players.

Taiwan Lottery, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控), will take over from Taipei Fubon Bank (台北富邦銀行) as the nation's exclusive Public Welfare Lottery operator, starting on Jan. 1, for the next seven years.

The top prize can be rolled over a maximum of 12 times if no one wins, up from the current 8 times, which will lead to potential prizes greater than the current record of NT$1.2 billion, Cole Chen (陳增國), vice president of online lottery development at Taiwan Lottery, told a press conference yesterday, without giving exact figures.

Retaining six existing products, the company also plans to launch a new game, which will pick winners everyday, to attract female players who usually bet smaller amounts.

The new lotto will feature 39 numbers, and guarantees NT$8 million (US$246,000) for each first prize winner if they select the five winning numbers, the company's president Chang Ruu-tian (張汝恬) said.

The odds of winning the top prize are 1 in 570,000, much higher than 6/38 lotto's 1 in 2.76 million and 6/49 lotto's 1 in 13.98 million, Chang said.

The new operator offers lotto buyers a novel presale service that allows them to bet on each combination of numbers a maximum of 20 times at once, she said.

The company will also lengthen its sales period to 10pm from the current 8pm deadline. People can buy lottery tickets for the next draw after 8pm everyday when the sale for the current draw closes.

Taiwan Lottery will also roll a new instant lottery, called "Scratch it," that will cost NT$1,000 per ticket but offers a whopping NT$10 million top prize, the company said.

Consumers can buy lottery tickets at 5,000 online lottery vendors, 5,000 roadside vendors, and 212 outlets at 26 different financial institutions, including 111 Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託銀行) and Hua Nan Bank (華南銀行) branches nationwide.

Chinatrust Commercial last December outbid three rivals by offering to pay the Ministry of Finance NT$2.09 billion each year, 10 times the floor price, to win the exclusive rights to run the public welfare lottery.

Taiwan Lottery said it hoped to see sales of NT$80 billion next year, which may not be an easy job considering declining sales of NT$60 billion to date this year, compared to last year's NT$74 billion.

Chang declined to comment on the net margins for the business and when it would break even.

Chinatrust said last year that the operator could garner 4.35 percent in annual sales. Profits will be determined by what remain after deducting a NT$2 billion payment to the finance ministry and operating costs, the bank said.

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