North Korean sports ministry launches online lottery

DPRK state media says players will be able to use the intranet to bet on major sporting events

The North Korean Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports recently launched an intranet-based sports lottery, DPRK state-run media reported last week.

The website is run by the sports lottery management office under the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports, the DPRK Today outlet reported on Sunday.

Two kinds of lottery products are provided, the report explained, with the first regularly drawing winners of “traditional-format” lotteries where, among other games, players pick winners and losers of sporting events.

The other format sees players selecting lottery winners instantly based on the number of stadium admission tickets, seats of players, and other factors.

“The number of workers participating in lotteries has been growing day after day,” DPRK Today said.

“The fairness and objectivity of the draw have been thoroughly guaranteed by introducing modern drawing machine. The probability of winning has increased.”

The photo of the main page carried by DPRK Today promises players a “fair lottery” that they will “definitely win.”

The lottery’s management office, the report continued, has “developed and operated the homepage of sports lottery” — which can be accessed on the intranet — based on “constant efforts” to keep pace with its industrial development.

“We have been more updating it considering feedback from users sufficiently,” it said, adding that the website also offers an “instant lottery on horse races.”

A screenshot of the website provided by DPRK Today shows a list of winners of two lotteries, though detailed information including method of payment and costs of tickets were not included.

The first winner of the lottery on horse racing game received 10,000 North Korean Won (KPW) (roughly $1.25 in market exchange rates) while the third, fourth, and fifth were paid, respectively, KPW 3000, 2000, and 1000.

DPRK Today also reported the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports has been “actively pushing forward… newly developing a variety of sports lotteries,” on its website, including soccer lotteries which offers players prizes based on the result of matches.

Sports lotteries began in North Korea 1986, the outlet reported, stressing their difference from the gambling and speculative components of lottery systems in capitalist countries.

“The sports lottery project… contributes to the social development and the advancement of cultural standards of workers,” DPRK Today reported.

“Sports lotteries which enhance social interest in sport and brings hopes and optimism to people have become more familiar with the life of citizens.”

In spite of its long history, North Korea’s sports lottery industry appears to have grown in recent years.

NK News last year reported on the emergence of sports lottery booths in Pyongyang, with prizes including laptops and tablet PCs.

February 2017 also saw Arirang-Meari report that the country had been drawing winners for sports lotteries during the Paektusan Prize Sports Games held at the Basketball Gymnasium in Chongchun Street.

A photo obtained by NK News in September showed a kiosk with the banner “Sports lottery” promoting lottery products to be sold on the occasion of a “Torch Cup” soccer tournament.

The poster said first, second, third winners in the instant draw would receive a refrigerator, mobile phone, and 19-inch LCD TV after a drawing of lots.

Pyongyang also holds lotteries on horse racing, dubbed “amateur riders competition,” held at the Mirim Riding Club every Spring and Autumn since October 2017.

A database provided the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) shows a long history of North Korean lottery, saying the country has often issued lotteries or securities when facing difficult financial situations.

The first lottery was issued in 1951 by the DPRK government under the name of “Choguk Powi” lottery with the aim of procuring war supplies and finances.

Choguk Powi roughly translates as “defense of the fatherland.”

1991 saw Pyongyang launch a People’s Lottery intended to encourage citizens to purchase USD$235 million in government bonds, the Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based pro-Pyongyang newspaper, reported.

The purpose of the issuance was to encourage cultural and leisure activities, as well as support the development of Tongil Street.

The DPRK Cabinet also offered ten-year “People’s Life Bonds” as prizes in a lottery in May 2003, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Bonds could then be repaid in various formats, the report said, with winners receiving their money immediately, while other bold-owners would be repaid in 2008.