Lottery ticket sales surge as more Koreans seek quick wins

 Lottery ticket buyers  queue at a retail store in Seoul's Nowon District that claims to have sold a total of 49 grand-prize winning tickets in this photo taken in March 2023. Yonhap

More than one out of 10 households in Korea spent money on lottery tickets in the first quarter of this year, marking the highest rate for any first three months in the past 안전 five years, data showed, Thursday. The latest numbers also show that many Koreans are trying their luck to seek quick cash amid economic uncertainties.

According to an analysis of microdata by Statistics Korea on household finance, 2.21 million households purchased lottery tickets, engaged in number combinations, participated in horse racing, cycling, and other forms of legalized betting and gambling from January to March.

The figure accounted for 10.1 percent of 21.83 million households nationwide analyzed by the stats agency during the first three months this year.

“The rate of lottery-buying households was the highest for any first quarter since 2020,” Statistics Korea said, noting that the quarterly rate stood at 9.3 percent in 2020, increased slightly to 9.6 percent in 2021, then decreased to 8.8 percent in 2022, and fell further to 8.6 percent in 2023.

“It is noteworthy that the rate ticked up above 10 percent this year,” it added.

During the January-March period, households spent an average of 7,321 won ($5.30) per month on lottery tickets, reflecting a 3 percent decrease compared to the same period of the previous year.

Concerning the correlation between income and the propensity to spend money on the lottery, it is worth noting that 22.9 percent of the 2.21 million lottery-buying households were within the income bracket spanning the upper 40 percent to the 60 percent mark.

“The findings showed that the mid-tier income group tends to buy lottery tickets more often those with lower or higher incomes,” Statistics Korea said.

It pointed out those in the bottom fourth of the quintile made up 22.8 percent of the 2.21 million, while those in the bottom fifth accounted for another 22.4 percent.

The rate stood at 17.3 percent for households with incomes falling within the upper 20 percent to 40 percent range, and at 14.6 percent for those in the top 20 percent bracket.

Regarding the amount spent on lottery tickets, the households in the third or mid-tier quintile spent a monthly average of 8,758 won.

Those in the second-highest quintile spent 7,747 won a month on average, followed by the bottom fifth at 7,651 won, the top fifth at 6,265 won and the bottom fourth at 5,905 won.

On a year-on-year comparison, the second-highest quintile spent 28.5 percent more on playing the lottery compared to 2023.

The year-on-year spending also increased by 14.1 percent for the third quintile and by 9.9 percent for the bottom fifth.

Conversely, each of the top fifth and bottom fourth spent 21.1 percent and 33.7 percent less respectively compared to 2023.

Asked why more households spend money on the lottery, a Korea Consumer Agency official speculated that such a behavioral pattern may be related to the high cost of living and financial distress.

“It appears people want to make some quick cash to cope with repayments and other financial burdens they face,” the official said.

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