Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and affiliates are reported to be investing HK$2.39 billion ($308 million) to gain about 59% control of AGTech Holdings Ltd. in a return to the lottery market after exiting due to government restrictions earlier, according to report today in Bloomberg.
The influx of money will see current Chinese lottery provider AGTech expand distribution to more provinces, add hardware, and expand games. A little over 7% of Mainland Chinese participate in the lottery, compared to more than 50% in Hong Kong, which the company said shows a potential for growth. Alibaba suspended lottery operations last year due to ever increasing restrictions from Beijing, hurting their earnings.
Asian news outlets are also reporting that Alibaba Sports has entered into a partnership to offer “Match Poker” with China’s Oceans Sports and Entertainment. Ocean Sports has ties with the International Poker Federation (IFP) and have plans to recruit 2 million new Chinese players within the next 5 years.
The IFP developed Match Poker, a team-based game, to exploit what is seen as a loophole in Chinese gambling law. Players compete for points and no physical cards are used. The IFP touts delivering digital cards to electronic devices, team play, the removal of random dealing, calculating scores on a per hand basis, and full playing records as major differences in their offering, effectively placing it in a “sports” or e-sports category rather than gambling.
Alibaba is one of the world’s largest online retailers who shocked the markets with the largest ever initial public offering (IPO) in 2014 raising some $25 billion, surpassing the 2010 record set by the Agricultural Bank of China, which raised $22.1.