Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Korea's lottery ticket sales hit an all-time high last year, exceeding the regulatory limit imposed by the country's gambling watchdog for two consecutive years.
Sales reached some 3.2 trillion won ($3 billion) in 2012, up about 3.4 percent from 3.08 trillion won a year earlier, according to the Lottery Commission, which is under the wing of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, on Monday.
An increase in consumer purchases of tickets for online lotteries, pension lotteries and traditional electronic lotteries led overall sales as the economic slowdown drove especially the middle class to buy tickets in the hope of hitting the jackpot.
The sales growth even surpassed the Korean economy's 2 percent growth forecast by the Bank of Korea for the year.
The National Gambling Control Commission of the Prime Minister's Office capped the sales at some 2.8 trillion won last year, which was surpassed by about 310.6 billion, it said.
It sets sales barriers on the lottery, gambling, casino and horse racing industries annually as part of efforts to curb gambling addiction.
Although lotteries pose less of a risk for addiction than other types of gambling entertainment, the commission sees them as having similar features that can hook consumers with a low probability of winning.
The ministry's Lottery Commission has reportedly set sales of lottery tickets to about 3.3 trillion won in 2013, up 3.2 percent from 2012.
However, the gambling watchdog is expected to demand it to further curtail its sales target as the Lottery Commission exceeded the limit in 2012.
Last year, the Gambling Control Commission rejected the Lottery Commission's proposal to increase its regulatory cap on sales by 355.6 billion won.
The move has put the Finance Ministry under criticism for abetting the lottery boom.
The Gambling Control Commission is expected to set a regulatory limit on lottery sales this year by the end of March.